Resize Plot Area in Excel Chart – Titles and Labels Overlapping

This post and video answers a question on how to resize the plot area of a chart to prevent the axis titles and labels from overlapping.  If you can't read the titles or labels this tip will help cleanup your chart to make it more presentable.

Excel Chart Titles Overlap Axis Labels

Video – How to Resize the Plot Area

Links mentioned in the video:

The Chart Area and Plot Area Are the Same Size

Sometimes the plot area can fill up the entire chart area.  This makes it difficult to distinguish the difference between the two areas of the chart.

Chart Area and Plot Area Diagram

The plot area also resizes with the chart area.  So if you select the outside border of the chart and resize it, the plot area will also resize proportionally.

In the case of Tony's chart in the video, he was having trouble seeing the axis titles and labels because the plot area was too large.  Therefore, the plot area needs to be smaller than the chart area to fit the axis labels, and titles outside the chart.

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This article is based on a question from Tony.

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Jon Acampora

Welcome to Excel Campus! I am excited you are here. My name is Jon and my goal is to help you learn Excel to save time with your job and advance in your career. I've been an avid Excel user and VBA developer for 10+ years. I am also a Microsoft MVP. I try to learn something new everyday, and want to share this knowledge with you to help you improve your skills. When I'm not looking at spreadsheets, I get outdoors and surf. :) more about me

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 10 comments
Mark - March 19, 2018

How can you specify the plot area precisely? Is there something like a resize option where I can tell excel what the plot area should be in numbers? I have ~20 plots where the plot area, title/axis, and chart size need to be exactly the same. Clicking borders and dragging them for each one isn’t just a massive pain but also impossible to keep consistent over that many graphs. Help greatly appreciated!

George - April 19, 2017

Hi, I have just now found it! Thank you very much for this add-in!

George - April 19, 2017

Hi, although this add-in is what I need, it does not seem to work in my excel 2010 German edition. I cannot find also the dialog box, although I have installed everything according to the instructions.

Nick - December 2, 2016

Good tip. Thank you. However, it seems not to work with waterfall charts in Excel 2016. The handlers appear in the corners but they cannot be used to resize the plot area?

(My x-axis labels are quite long and I want a bigger space between the bottom of the plot area and the bottom of the chart area)

    Jon Acampora - December 10, 2016

    Thanks Nick! It looks like the waterfall chart is limited right now and you can’t change the size of the plot area. I will look into why this is, and see if there might be a fix. Thanks!

fred - November 1, 2016

Not in my 2003. I get resize handles for everything BUT the plot area.

Elisa - September 28, 2016

Thank you!!
This was exactly what I needed to fix my chart

    Jon Acampora - October 4, 2016

    Awesome! Thanks for letting me know Elisa! 🙂

Excel Roundup 20140922 « Contextures Blog - September 21, 2014

[…] your chart titles are overlapping the chart labels, watch Jon Acampora’s video to see how to fix the […]


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