How To Add, Change and Remove a Second Y-Axis in Excel

Updated February 3, 2023

The y-axis of an Excel chart determines the value of vertical data points in your Excel spreadsheet or chart. Excel allows you the option to add a second y-axis to your chart to display complex data series. Understanding how to use this feature can help you visualize data more robustly. 

In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide detailing how to add a second y-axis in Excel, show you how to change and remove the additional y-axis and discuss some reasons why you may want to add one at all.

How to add a second y-axis in Excel

Though some of the specific terms may vary depending on your operating system and the version of the program you're using, you can follow these steps to add a second y-axis to an Excel chart:

1. Create a spreadsheet

Open Excel and create a spreadsheet that represents each data point in your study. It's best to use the same program for this task as the one you plan to use for the graph, as it would allow you to convert the data into different media within the software. Be sure to label each row of your spreadsheet and give each data point an individual cell row.

Related: How To Alphabetize Excel Cells, Columns and Rows

2. Identify the data you want to include

Identify the data you want to convert to a visualization. You might want to include all of your data or just information from a particular time span or range. Once you choose which data sets to chart, click and drag your computer mouse across the text containing the chosen data, including the labels.

If you don't want to include all of the data, hold the control key on your keyboard while clicking on each data point you want.

Related: Basic Excel Formulas and How To Use Them

3. Select the type of chart you want to create

Once you select your data, click on the "Insert" tab in the toolbar at the top of the screen, next to the "File" and "Home" tabs. There, locate the "Charts" section, which contains multiple options, including but not limited to line graphsbar graphs and waterfall charts. Select the one that you'd like to create. Once you choose a chart option, Excel can generate a graph using the data you select.

Related: How To Make a Chart in Excel (With Step-by-Step Instructions)

4. Find the line in which you want to insert the second y-axis

On the chart, identify where you want to insert the second y-axis. This includes finding the data points you want the additional y-axis analysis to include. Double-click the line to display the "Format Data" menu. If you click the line only once, it highlights one data point and doesn't display the right menu.

Related: 4 Data Types in Microsoft Excel (With Uses and Tips)

5. Use the "Series Options" icon to insert the secondary axis

Once the "Format Data" menu appears, select the icon that looks like a bar graph. This reveals the submenu of series options, which is where you can find the option for a secondary y-axis. Click this option to transform your original chart to include a second y-axis.

How to change the y-axis in Excel

If you'd like to change the chart type of the secondary y-axis after creating it, follow these steps:

  1. Hover over the chart with your mouse and right-click. The chart is in the middle of your spreadsheet. Right-clicking on it opens a context menu.

  2. Select the option that reads "Change series chart type" from the context menu. This opens a window that allows you to edit the chart's properties.

  3. Select checkboxes for the lines you want to change. Checking these boxes allows you to add lines to the y-axis.

  4. Click on the line and select a type of chart. If you don't want to add an additional y-axis, you can also represent the line of data on a different type of chart. Choose from one of the chart icons near the top of the editing window to do this.

  5. Accept the changes. Once you finish editing the chart, select the "OK" button on the bottom right side of the editing window to accept your changes. If you change your mind and don't want to make any changes, just click the "Cancel" button instead.

Related: How To Choose the Right Types of Charts in 3 Steps

How to remove a y-axis in Excel

Should you realize that you don't want the additional y-axis you've created, you can easily get rid of it. First, use your mouse to click on the axis you want to remove. With the axis highlighted, hit the "Delete" or "Backspace" key on your keyboard. Alternatively, right-click on the highlighted axis and select "Delete" from the context menu. 

Why add a second y-axis in Excel?

 There are several reasons why you may want to consider adding a second y-axis to an Excel chart. Some of the common reasons are:

  • Varied needs: Having a second y-axis often allows you to consider secondary outcomes on one chart and accommodate different research needs.

  • Varied values: A secondary y-axis can help you chart data points that show a great variance from one another.

  • Mixed data: Having a second y-axis allows you to chart mixed types of data, such as price and total units, on one chart.

  • Efficiency: It's often more efficient to add a second y-axis because it spares you from creating another chart that shares information with the first.

  • Comparison: A second y-axis makes a clearer comparison between two data types, which can help with the analysis of the data.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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