How to Add a Break In Excel Graph

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How to Add a Break In Excel Graph

To create a detailed article on how to add a break in an Excel graph, let’s cover everything comprehensively. This guide will walk through the significance, step-by-step process, and best practices based on top Google results and user needs.

Understanding the Significance of Adding Breaks in Excel Graphs

Adding breaks in Excel graphs is crucial for effectively visualizing data that contains outliers or extreme values. Without breaks, these outliers can skew the graph, making it difficult to interpret the bulk of the data accurately. By adding breaks, you can focus on the main data trends while still acknowledging and representing outliers appropriately. This improves the clarity and readability of your graphs, helping viewers to better understand the data without distortion.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Add a Break in Excel Graph

Step 1: Prepare Your Data

Before creating your graph, ensure your data is organized properly in Excel. Each column should represent a category or series, and rows should contain the corresponding data points. Make sure your data includes any outliers or extreme values that may warrant a break in the graph.

Step 2: Create a Chart in Excel

  1. Select Data:

Highlight the data you want to include in your graph, including outliers.

  1. Insert Chart:

Go to the “Insert” tab on the Excel ribbon.

  1. Choose Chart Type:

Select the appropriate chart type for your data (e.g., line chart, bar chart).

Step 3: Identify Data Points for Break

  1. Identify Outliers:

Review your data to identify any outliers or extreme values that may distort the graph.

  1. Decide Break Point:

Determine where you want to introduce the break in the graph to exclude outliers temporarily.

Step 4: Add a Break in Excel Graph

  1. Insert a Secondary Axis:

   Right-click on the outlier data series (e.g., the series containing extreme values).

   Choose “Format Data Series.”

   In the Format Data Series pane, select “Series Options.”

   Choose “Secondary Axis.” This will move the series to a secondary Y-axis, separating it from the main data series.

  1. Format the Secondary Axis:

   Click on the secondary Y-axis (typically on the right side of the chart).

   Format it to match the primary axis (if needed) to ensure consistency in scale and appearance.

  1. Adjust Scale:

   Right-click on the secondary Y-axis and choose “Format Axis.”

   Adjust the axis scale to exclude the outlier values. This will visually create a break in the graph where extreme values are not displayed on the primary axis.

Step 5: Customize Your Graph (Optional)

  1. Add Labels and Titles:

Include axis labels, a chart title, and data labels if necessary to provide context and clarity.

  1. Modify Styles:

Customize the appearance of your chart using Excel’s formatting tools to make it visually appealing and easy to understand.

Step 6: Review and Finalize

  1. Check Data Integrity:

Ensure that your graph accurately represents the data while effectively managing outliers through the use of breaks.

  1. Test Interpretation:

Share your graph with others to confirm that the break enhances understanding without sacrificing accuracy.

Best Practices for Adding Breaks in Excel Graphs

Use Breaks Sparingly:

Only add breaks when necessary to improve clarity without misleading the viewer.

Label Breaks Clearly:

Clearly indicate where breaks occur and why they are used to avoid confusion.

Educate Your Audience:

If presenting the graph, explain the presence of breaks and how they enhance data visualization.


  • Adding breaks in Excel graphs is a powerful technique for improving data visualization by managing outliers effectively.
  • By following these steps of how to add a break in excel graph and best practices, you can create clear and informative graphs that accurately represent your data while enhancing understanding for your audience.
  • Excel’s flexibility in managing axes and series allows for precise control over how outliers are presented, making it a valuable tool for anyone needing to visualize complex data sets.

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