How to Change an Excel Chart to Ascending Order

By Jenny Hansen

Excel charts add flair to presentations.
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Excel charts are an effective way to convey data visually, but many people find it tricky to update the individual chart elements, especially the sorting and placement of data series and categories. In addition to the previous right-click formatting options, Excel 2013 has a new Formatting Task Pane, which allows quick selection of individual chart elements.

Understanding a Data Series

Every column or row of numbers included in a chart is called a "data series." Some charts include more than one series. For example, a pie chart shows the percentages of a single data series. A bar chart can show how several data series relate to one another.

Creating a Chart

Two ways to insert a chart are by selecting "Charts" in the Quick Analysis dialog box or by navigating to the Insert tab and choosing the chart type from the Charts group. The second method is preferable when you need a specific chart type. To make changes to a chart, first click anywhere in the chart area to make it active; this displays a "Chart Tools" area on the right side of the menu bar.

Changing the Order and Placement of Data Series

To change the order of the data in either the Category axis -- the x-axis -- or the Value axis -- the y-axis -- double-click on the axis to open the Format Axis dialog box. Click the "Axis Options" button and then the check box for "Values in Reverse Order." Right-clicking on any chart element shows an option to format it in the shortcut menu.

Sometimes you need to showcase different data on the x-axis than Category. Perhaps you wish to plot the Legend information on the Category axis or vice versa. To swap the chart's Legend entries and Category axis, go to the Design menu under Chart Tools and click the "Switch Row/Column" button in the Data grouping.

Excel 2013 includes on-object buttons that appear to the right of any chart when it is active. These buttons provide quick access to common chart customization features.