How to Change Order of Legend in Excel

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How to Change Order of Legend in Excel

Changing the order of the legend in Excel charts can be a crucial task for those looking to present their data more effectively. The legend in Excel charts helps identify what each color or symbol represents, making it easier for viewers to understand the data being presented. Sometimes, however, the default order of the legend may not match the preferred or logical sequence of the data. This can lead to confusion or misinterpretation. Therefore, knowing how to change the order of the legend in Excel is significant. This article will guide you through the step-by-step process to understand how to change order of legend in excel.

Significance of Changing the Order of Legend in Excel

  1. Improved Clarity:

A well-ordered legend can make the data clearer and easier to understand.

  1. Better Comparison:

When the legend order matches the order of data series in the chart, comparing different data points becomes more intuitive.

  1. Customization:

Tailoring the legend order to your specific needs allows for better storytelling with your data.

  1. Professional Presentation:

Customizing every aspect of your chart, including the legend, can give a more polished and professional look to your reports and presentations.

Step-by-Step Process to Change the Order of Legend in Excel

Step 1: Create Your Chart

Before you can change the legend order, you need to have a chart. Here’s a quick guide to creating a simple chart:

  1. Open Excel:

Start Excel and open your spreadsheet containing the data you want to chart.

  1. Select Data:

Highlight the range of data you want to include in the chart.

  1. Insert Chart:

Go to the ‘Insert’ tab on the Ribbon, choose the type of chart you want to create (e.g., Column, Line, Pie, etc.), and click on it. Your chart will appear on the spreadsheet.

Step 2: Access the Select Data Source Dialog Box

  1. Right-click on the Chart:

Once your chart is created, right-click on any blank space within the chart area. A context menu will appear.

  1. Select ‘Select Data’:

From the context menu, choose ‘Select Data’. This will open the Select Data Source dialog box.

Step 3: Change the Order of Legend Entries

  1. Locate the Legend Entries (Series):

In the Select Data Source dialog box, you will see a section called ‘Legend Entries (Series)’ on the left side. This section lists all the series included in your chart.

  1. Select a Series:

Click on the series that you want to move. This will highlight the series.

  1. Move Up or Down:

Use the up and down arrows to the right of the list to move the selected series up or down in the order. The top series will appear first in the legend, followed by the second, and so on.

Step 4: Apply and Close

  1. Click OK:

Once you have arranged the series in your desired order, click the ‘OK’ button to apply the changes and close the dialog box.

  1. Update Chart:

Your chart will automatically update to reflect the new order of the legend entries.

Additional Tips and Considerations

Series Name and Order:

The order of the legend entries follows the order of the data series in the chart. By rearranging the series, you also affect the stacking order in stacked charts or the overlapping order in line charts.

Editing Series:

You can also edit the name of each series in the ‘Select Data Source’ dialog box by selecting a series and clicking the ‘Edit’ button. This can further enhance the clarity of your legend.

Dynamic Charts:

If your data is dynamic and frequently changes, consider using Excel tables to manage your data. Changes in table data are automatically reflected in the charts.

Macro for Advanced Users:

For those comfortable with VBA, you can write a macro to automate the reordering of legend entries. This is especially useful if you frequently need to reorder legends in multiple charts.

Examples and Common Scenarios

Example 1: Sales Data by Region

Imagine you have a chart showing sales data by region: North, South, East, and West. By default, the legend might list the regions in alphabetical order. However, you might want the regions to appear in the order of sales performance, with the highest sales first.

By following the steps outlined above, you can reorder the legend to reflect the performance, making it easier for stakeholders to quickly see which region is performing best.

Example 2: Monthly Performance Tracking

For a monthly performance tracking chart, the legend might default to an order based on when the data was added rather than the chronological order of months.

Reordering the legend to follow the natural progression of months (January, February, March, etc.) can make the chart more intuitive and the trends easier to follow.

Conclusion:

  • Changing the order of the legend in Excel is a simple yet powerful way to enhance the readability and professionalism of your charts. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this article on how to change order of legend in excel, you can customize your charts to better convey your data story.
  • Whether you are preparing a report for a business meeting, a presentation for a conference, or a visual aid for your team, mastering this aspect of Excel chart customization will ensure your data is presented in the most effective way possible.

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