August 23, 2013

Add manual data labels in PowerPoint graphs/charts

Filed under: Graphics,Guest Bloggers,PowerPoint — Tags: , , — Sandi Mays @ 12:47 pm

Drew Moldane came up with this trick to automate adding manual labels to PowerPoint graphs/charts. This is great for displaying related data in a straight line on any chart. It also displays words that can’t otherwise be graphed. He won the high five Buddha … since this is a huge time-saver!

Please see below for the step-by-step walkthrough on how to convert manually added labels to linked labels. Please let me know if any of the steps don’t make sense or if you’re following along and I’ve missed something and I’ll correct. As I’m sure you know with these things, what might make perfect sense to me may come across confusing to the reader, so let me know if that is the case …hope this is helpful!



1. Click anywhere within the chart
2. Click “Select Data” from the Design tab
3. Click “Add” in the Legend Entries (Series) box


4. Select the data that you want to appear as labels (this data may need to be manually added to the PPT chart excel sheet and then linked to your earnings supplement)


5. Edit the Horizontal (Category) Axis Labels


6. Select the numeric data for the Axis label range. Traditionally this data would be the dates


7. The “Select Data” box should look like the below screenshot, with CV added as a new Legend Entries and the CV values ($64, $61, etc) as the Horizontal Axis Labels


8. Return to the PPT and click anywhere within the chart

9. From the Layout tab “Current Selection” drop-down box, select the newly created Series and click “Format Selection”


10. In the new Format Data Series box, plot the series on the Secondary axis. Click OK and ignore the effects on the chart

11. From the Layout tab, click AxesSecondary Horizontal AxisShow Left to Right Axis and ignore the effects on the chart


12. From the Layout tab “Current Selection” drop-down box, select Secondary Horizontal (Category) Axis and click “Format Selection”


13. Format Axis Window:
a. Axis Options: select Major/Minor tick mark type: None, and leave the Axis labels: Next to Axis
b. Number: enter the custom Format Code below (this will create the M in the $xxM),uncheck Linked to source and click Add. There are various format codes for %, +/-, etc


c. Fill: No fill
d. Line Color: No line

14. Click Close. With the same Secondary Horizontal (Category) Axis selected, click the Home tab and format the Font Face/Size/Color/Bold to match the current format (most used color scheme settings below)


15. From the Layout tab “Current Selection” drop-down box, select Secondary Vertical (Value) Axis and click “Format Selection”


16. Format Axis Window:

a. Axis Options as shown below. Where the horizontal axis crosses should be the ONLY recurring manual step. This value will have to be updated depending on how the numbers shift. Pay attention to the Min/Max/Major unit on this page, as it will tell you about where the axis will cross and where it will show up on your chart


b. Fill: No fill
c. Line Color: No line
d. Click Close

17. Delete the current data labels / text boxes and voila! You now have labels that update automatically with the rest of your charts. No more nudging to get them to line up properly / remembering to update them! You still need to keep the “Contract Value = “ data label in place

18. Note: there are slight variations that have to be made for different chart types (%ages, etc), but the basic steps are the same


  1. Great tip, thank you.

    Comment by Ricardo — May 12, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

  2. Cool, saves a bit of time for me.

    Comment by John — May 20, 2011 @ 3:32 am

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