How to Set Intervals on Excel Charts: A Step-by-Step Guide

Setting intervals on Excel charts is a key skill for anyone looking to present data in a clear, precise, and visually appealing way. By doing so, you’re able to customize the frequency of data points or markers on your chart’s axes, which can help in emphasizing trends or patterns. It’s fairly straightforward – all you need to do is navigate to the chart’s axis options and make the necessary adjustments. Once you’ve set the intervals to your liking, your chart will instantly update to reflect the changes.

After completing the action, the Excel chart will display data points at the specified intervals, making the data easier to read and understand for the audience. The chart will look more organized, and the intervals will help in highlighting specific data trends.


Excel, Microsoft’s powerful spreadsheet software, has become an indispensable tool in the world of data analysis and presentation. Whether you’re a student crunching numbers for a project, a business analyst preparing a report, or a researcher visualizing complex data, Excel charts are often your go-to resource. But to make the most of these charts, knowing how to set intervals can be a game-changer.

Why bother with intervals, you ask? Well, imagine you’ve got a line chart that’s cluttered with data points. It’s hard to see the forest for the trees, right? Setting intervals helps clean up the clutter, making your chart more readable and your data more digestible. It’s all about presenting your data in the clearest way possible, so your audience can quickly grasp the insights you’re trying to convey. And let’s be real, we’ve all sat through presentations with confusing charts that made us scratch our heads. Don’t be that person. Stick around, and you’ll learn how to set intervals on Excel charts like a pro.

Step by Step Tutorial to Set Intervals on Excel Charts

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to understand that following these steps will allow you to control the appearance of your Excel charts by setting the intervals between data points or markers. This ensures that your charts convey the right information in the most efficient way.

Step 1: Select Your Chart

Click on the chart you wish to edit. This will bring up Chart Tools on the Excel ribbon.

Selecting your chart is the starting point. Once you click on it, you’ll see additional options appear on your Excel toolbar, indicating that you’re in editing mode for that chart.

Step 2: Access the Format Axis Menu

Right-click on the axis you want to change and select ‘Format Axis’ from the dropdown menu.

By right-clicking on the axis (either X or Y, depending on which interval you want to set), you’ll see a menu pop up. From there, ‘Format Axis’ gets you into the control room for setting intervals.

Step 3: Set Your Interval

In the Format Axis pane, look for ‘Axis Options’ and then adjust the ‘Interval between marks’ or ‘Interval between labels’ as needed.

Here’s where you determine how often a label or mark appears on your axis. You can choose a specific number that suits your data’s scale and the level of detail you want to display.

Step 4: Close the Format Axis Pane

After setting your intervals, close the Format Axis pane to see the changes reflected on your chart.

With your intervals set, you can close out of the menu and take a look at your cleaner, more reader-friendly chart. It’s that simple – your chart now communicates data at the pace you’ve decided is best.


Enhanced ReadabilityBy setting intervals on your chart, you eliminate clutter and make the data points easier to read and understand.
CustomizationSetting intervals allows you to customize the chart to suit the data’s scale and the level of detail you wish to present.
Highlighting TrendsWith proper intervals, it’s easier for the audience to spot and understand trends or patterns within the data.


Over-simplificationIf intervals are set too wide, you might oversimplify the data and miss out on important details.
MisrepresentationIncorrect intervals could potentially mislead the audience or misrepresent the data trends.
Time-ConsumingFinding the perfect interval setting can be a trial-and-error process and might take additional time.

Additional Information

While setting intervals on Excel charts seems like a piece of cake, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid common pitfalls. Firstly, consider your audience and the level of detail they require. You don’t want to drown them in data, but you also don’t want to leave them thirsting for more information. Secondly, think about the story your data is telling. The intervals you set can either support the narrative or muddy the waters.

Don’t forget that Excel offers different types of charts, each with its own nuances when it comes to setting intervals. For instance, a bar chart might require different interval settings compared to a line chart to effectively convey information. Also, remember that Excel has a mind of its own sometimes, and it might suggest automatic intervals based on the data range. Feel free to override these suggestions if they don’t serve your purpose.

Lastly, the beauty of Excel is its flexibility. If you set intervals and realize that they’re not working for you, it’s no big deal. Just jump back into the Format Axis pane and tweak them until you’re satisfied. Practice makes perfect, and before you know it, setting intervals will be second nature.


  1. Select your chart to bring up Chart Tools.
  2. Right-click on the axis and select ‘Format Axis’.
  3. Adjust the ‘Interval between marks’ or ‘Interval between labels’ in the Axis Options.
  4. Close the Format Axis pane to see the updated chart.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I set different intervals for the X and Y axes?

Yes, you can set different intervals for each axis by accessing the Format Axis menu for each one separately.

What happens if I don’t set intervals?

If you don’t set intervals, Excel will automatically choose what it thinks is best, which may not be ideal for your data presentation.

Can intervals be set for all types of Excel charts?

Mostly, yes, but some chart types like pie charts don’t have axis intervals since they represent parts of a whole differently.

Is there a limit to how many intervals I can set?

You can set as many or as few intervals as you like, but remember that too many can clutter your chart, and too few can oversimplify.

Can I revert to automatic intervals after setting my own?

Absolutely, just go back into the Format Axis menu and reset the intervals to automatic if you’re not happy with your manual settings.


Setting intervals on Excel charts isn’t just about making your charts look pretty. It’s about presenting your data in the most effective way possible. It’s a subtle art that can make or break the clarity of your data visualization. The steps we’ve walked through are designed to give you control over how your data is displayed, allowing you to tell your data’s story in a clear, concise, and compelling way.

Excel charts are a powerful tool, and mastering the art of setting intervals is like fine-tuning a musical instrument. It takes practice, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll be making beautiful data music that resonates with your audience. So go ahead, give it a try, and watch your Excel charts go from good to great.

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