How to Add Axis Labels in Excel Charts – Step-by-Step (2022)

An axis label briefly explains the meaning of the chart axis. It’s basically a title for the axis.

Like most things in Excel, it’s super easy to add axis labels, when you know how.

So, let me show you 💡

If you want to tag along, download my sample data workbook here.

What are axis labels in Excel charts?

When you insert a chart in Excel, you have a chart title that tells what the chart is all about.

But sometimes that’s simply not enough to tell the user what the chart is all about.

And that’s where axis labels come in.

Horizontal and vertical axis titles example

Axis labels are not displayed by default, so you need to add them manually.

In the picture below, the horizontal axis title explains that the X-axis is departments.

And the vertical axis title explains that the Y-axis is all about revenue.

How to add axis titles

1. Left-click the Excel chart.

2. Click the plus button in the upper right corner of the chart.

Add chart element

3. Click Axis Titles to put a checkmark in the axis title checkbox. This will display axis titles.

Click Axis Titles

4. Click the added axis title text box to write your axis label.

Click axis title text box

Or you can go to the ‘Chart Design’ tab, and click the ‘Add Chart Element’ button to add the axis titles.

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Add axis label on horizontal or vertical axis

If you only want to add either horizontal axis labels or vertical axis labels, then go back to step 3 above and click the little black arrow symbol.

Add primary horizontal axis title or primary vertical axis title

From there, you can put a checkbox to add either a primary vertical or primary horizontal axis title✅

If you are using a dual axis chart, then options for secondary horizontal axis title and secondary vertical axis title will be shown automatically.

Change axis label names

If your Excel chart already has axis labels, you can easily edit them.

Just double-left click on each of the axis titles and write what you want them to say.

Double left-click and write your title

Dynamic axis titles

If you want to automate the naming of axis labels, you can create a reference from the axis title to a cell.

1. Left-click the Axis Title once.

2. Write the equal symbol as if you were starting a normal Excel formula. You can see the formula in the formula bar.

3. Left-click the cell that contains the desired axis title, as if you were creating a normal reference. Then press Enter.

Add dynamic axis title in Excel

Now, when the text in the axis title cell changes, the actual axis label will change as well.

Pretty cool, right?😎

Remove axis title

You can remove axis titles by left-clicking them and pressing the Delete key.

Or, you can remove the checkmark in the Axis Titles checkbox.

Remove axis titles

Format axis title

If you’re finding your axis labels a bit dull, you can spice them up nicely with some formatting🎨

Double click the text in the axis title to select it.

Then apply any formatting you want from the Home tab, or go to the contextual Format tab for more advanced options.

Format axis label

That’s it – Now what?

You just learned how to label X and Y axis in Excel.

But also how to change and remove titles, add a label for only the vertical or horizontal axis, insert a formula in the axis title text box to make it dynamic, and format it too.

Well done💪

This all revolves around charts as a topic.

But charts are only a small part of Microsoft Excel.

Knowing more Excel speeds up your work tremendously, makes you less dependent on your coworkers, and generally makes your life easier.

If you want to achieve that, enroll in my 30-minute free Excel training program that adapts to your Excel skill level.

Click here to enroll in my free Excel course.

Other resources

If you do want to learn more about charts, including specific formatting options, you should check out how to switch X and Y axis in Excel.

But in general, knowing how to use the holy trifecta of charts: the pie chart, the line chart, and the column chart is indispensable.