How to Add Chart Legends in Excel 2010

By Shawn McClain

Updated September 28, 2017

In a Microsoft Excel 2010 chart or graph, the legend will list the names of each of the data series in the chart and will provide a color-coded system so you can match the information in the chart to the name of the series. When you create an Excel chart, the legend will automatically appear next to it, but there are a number of ways that the legend can be deleted. If you need to add a legend back to your chart, there is a dedicated button on the Excel ribbon where you can manipulate the legend.

Double-click the Excel 2010 file that you want to work with to open up the spreadsheet.

Click anywhere on the chart to select it. Then click the “Layout” tab at the top of the screen.

Click the “Legend” button, which is located in the Labels area of the ribbon. Choose one of the four direction buttons to place the legend above, to the right, to the left or below the chart. Alternatively, click either of the “Overlay” buttons to place the legend at the right or left side of the chart, overlapping the chart itself.

Right-click the legend on the chart, and choose “Format Legend” from the pop-up menu. The Format Legend window will appear.

Select any of the options on the left side of the window other than “Legend Options” to adjust how the legend will appear on your chart. These settings will let you add a filled-in background, adjust the border color or style, add a shadow element and adjust the edges of the legend. Click “Close” when you are done adjusting the legend’s appearance.