All charts in Excel have a chart area, which encloses all elements of the chart. The easiest way to select the chart area is to click just below the top edge of the chart. The Chart Elements menu on the Format tab of the ribbon, and the Format Task pane title will confirm the chart area is selected. Once the chart area is selected, you can make a variety of formatting changes. For example, I can change the fill another color, or even set the fill color to none, so that cells underneath show through. To change the line around a chart, use the controls in the Border area. You’ll find controls for color, thickness, and many other line attributes, including rounded corners. Set the border to “No line” to remove the border entirely. When you hide gridlines on the worksheet this is a good way to blend a chart in with the background. You can also right-click the chart area to change fill and line settings. To re-size a chart, just use the drag handles. Hold down the alt key if you want to snap the chart to the gridlines. The plot area in an Excel chart sits in inside the chart area, and contains the actual chart. You can click to select a plot area, or right-click and use the mini toolbar to select. Like the chart area, you can change the fill and border of the plot area. Note the size of the plot area may change as you add elements to a chart. For example, if I had a legend to the right, the plot area is reduced. And, if I remove the chart title, the plot area gets taller. In many Excel charts, you can also resize the plot area directly. Remember that when you’ve made changes to a chart, you can right-click and choose Reset to Match Style to revert the chart to its original state.  

Dave Bruns

Hi - I’m Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.