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How to improve your chart with labels, legends and axes in Numbers

Boost your information communication skills by learning how to manipulate data in your charts

MainThere’s no point in having a gorgeously graphic chart if, once they’ve admired the different textures you’ve applied to the pie slices, people can’t read any of the information it’s trying to communicate. A lot of the time, it’s simply down to the formatting options you have for the charts that you’ve created from tables. Once you’ve selected your data range and clicked to create a chart, it’s tempting to leave things as they are, but it pays to pay attention to the details.

So here we’re going to walk you through the main chart options you need to customise, depending on your chart type and the data you’re representing, the legend, and your chart and axes labels.


Step 1

1 Enable legend

Select data in a table, click the Chart button up top and choose a type, and chances are you’ll see something like this. Ensure Legend is ticked in the chart’s Format options.

Step 2

2 Style legend

Click to select the box containing the legend and you can customise almost everything, from the font options through to a gradient fill, stroke outline, shadow and more.

Step 3

3 Place legend

Now click the Arrange tab in the Format panel. Instead of manually dragging the legend to resize or reposition it, you can fine-tune the values beside Size and Position.

Step 4

4 Customise title

Add a chart title by ticking the box above Legend in the chart’s Format options, then double-click the text box that appears to change the title and customise the font.

Step 5

5 Name axes

Now hit the Axis tab and tick on Axis Name. Again, double-click to type axes names and customise the font. Do this on both the Value (Y) and Category (X) sub-tabs (up top).

Step 6

6 Sort X

In your Category (X) options, also change the Label Angle to make the bottom axis more readable – Right Diagonal works well. Add Tick Marks and Gridlines to taste.

Step 7

7 Sort Y

Under Value (Y), increase the Major value under Steps to break up your axis and make it easier to navigate horizontally. Tick Axis Line if you added X axis Tick Marks.

Step 8

8 Add labels

Finally, to label individual values, click one of the lines, bars, curves etc in your chart to open the Series options, then apply a relevant Value Label from the drop-down.

Step 9

9 Name labels

Your labels will likely be all but unreadable once you first apply them. To get around this, click the annotated image below to see how you can clean them all up for better legibility.

Click Image to Enlarge: