Secondary Axis in Excel (Add, Remove & Change)

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In this article, you will learn how to add secondary axis in Excel chart using Recommended Charts option or using the Format Data Series feature. In addition to that, you will learn how to remove secondary axis in Excel and changing the secondary axis in Excel.

We have used Microsoft 365 to prepare this article. But you can use these methods in Excel versions from Excel 2003 onwards.

In Excel, we use the secondary axis when we need to plot two different data series with different scales on the same chart. It helps us compare two sets of data in a more meaningful way. You may do this in any of the two available methods. If you choose the Recommended Charts option, you don’t need to be worried that much because Excel will adjust everything for you. You will select one series and choose the Secondary Axis option for that series. However, you may add the secondary axis manually if you want to know the full process. Whatever the purpose is, follow the article and enjoy!

Secondary Axis in Excel

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What Do You Mean by Secondary Axis in Excel and Why Should You Add It?

A secondary axis in Excel is an extra set of vertical or horizontal scales. If you’re plotting data sets with different ranges, secondary charts can be helpful to compare their trends within the same chart. It enhances the clarity of data and prevents the distortion of data representation. For example, you have a dataset that contains one range from 1000 to 10000 while another ranges from 0.1 to 200. Then, you cannot visualize the second range perfectly in the chart. The secondary axis will be very helpful in this case.

How Many Methods Are Available in Excel to Add Secondary Axis?

There are 2 easy ways by which you can add a secondary axis. You will get an overall idea about these in the following section.

1. How to Add Secondary Axis Using Recommended Charts Option?

Using the Recommended Charts option is the easiest way to add secondary axis.

  • First of all, select the dataset and click on the Insert tab.
  • Under the Insert tab, you will find the option Recommended Charts. Select that.

Select Dataset and Choose Recommended Charts

  • When you select the Recommended Charts option, you will find a chart like the image below in your worksheet. The first one is automatically selected. Now, click OK.

Using Recommended Charts to Add Secondary Column

  • After that, you will find a chart in your worksheet that contains the % of profit on the secondary axis.
Chart with Secondary Axis

Click the Image for Detailed View

2. Can I Add a Secondary Axis Manually?

What if you haven’t liked the previous method? Then you may use the following manual method where you will add a secondary axis by changing the chart type.

  • Like the previous method, select the dataset.
  • Then click on Insert Column or Bar Chart. Right after that, select 2D Column for your charts.

Selecting Options for Adding Secondary Axis by Format Data Series

  • Now, look at the chart. The columns for % of profit are so small and impossible to interpret. To better visualize the data, we will add a secondary axis.
  • Validating Necessity of Secondary AxisRight-click on any column.

Accessing Format Data Series Panel

  • From the Series Options, select the series you want to see in the secondary axis. In our case, it is Series “%Profit”.

Select Series for Secondary Axis

  • Next, you’ll get the following thing and check the circle before Secondary Axis.

Insert Secondary Axis

  • Consequently, your chart will look like the following one.
  • Chart with Secondary AxisIn the final step, we will change the chart type of %Profit. To do that, right-click on the chart and select Change Chart Type.

Changing Chart Type

  • In the Combo chart option, we will set the %profit series to Line type graph.
  • Converting Clustered Column to Line SeriesThe final look of your chart will look like the following image.

Modified Chart with Secondary Axis

3. How to Add Secondary Axis in Excel Scatter Plot?

Adding a secondary axis in a scatter plot is not so different from adding one in a normal chart. However, following the steps below you will be able to add a secondary axis in your scatter plot. In the following image, you will find a scatter plot where we haven’t used a secondary axis.

Scatter Plot without Secondary Axis

But, we want to add a secondary axis to this chart to visualize the “%Profit” data. To do that,

  • First, select the data series.
  • Right-click on the mouse to select the Format Data Series option.

Adding Secondary Axis for Scatter Chart

You will find the following change in your chart.

Scatter Chart with Secondary Axis

How to Remove Secondary Axis in Excel?

If you need to remove the secondary axis, you will have to follow some specific steps in Excel.

  • In order to remove the secondary axis from your chart, select that like the image below.
  • Select Secondary Axis to be RemovedAfter that, hit the Delete or Backspace key on your keyboard. The secondary axis will disappear instantly.

Chart after Deleting Secondary Axis

Is it Possible to Change the Y-axis in Excel?

Yes, you may do it by changing the chart type from the context menu.

  • Right-click on the chart and select Change Chart Type from the options.

Changing Y Axis of Chart

  • A box appears with various options. Change the option shown in the following image.

Changing Y Axis

  • After completing the steps described above, you will find a chart with a different look in your worksheet.

Chart with Changed Y Axis

How to Add Secondary X Axis in Excel?

So far, we have seen ways of adding a secondary Y-axis in Excel. At this point, you are curious whether you can add a secondary X-axis in Excel. The answer is, YES! We will use the same dataset to add a secondary X-axis in Excel. In the following image, you will see the dataset in which we want to apply a secondary X axis.

Dataset to Insert Secondary X Axis

  • We will use the Recommended Charts option to insert a chart in Excel. Then, change the chart type of the series “Year” into Scatter. Also, uncheck the Secondary Axis option next to the Chart Type drop-down menu.

Changing Chart Type of a Series

  • In the Format Data Series task pane, change the series option from Primary Axis to Secondary Axis.
  • At the same time, click on the “+” sign in the upper right corner of the chart. Click on Axes >>Check Secondary Horizontal >> Uncheck Secondary Vertical.

Adding Secondary Horizontal Axis

  • In the chart above, you can see that the X-axis labels show values like 0,1,2, etc. But we don’t want to see those values. To modify this, right-click on the chart >> choose Select Data.
  • Edit the “Year” series. In the Series X Values option select the “Year” range (D5:D10) and select the “Region” range (B5:B10) as the Series Y Values.

Secondary X Axis Label Updated

  • Change the highest and lowest values in the X-axis label. Since our dataset starts with the value “2016” and ends at the value “2021”, we set these to the Minimum and Maximum values in the label respectively.

Changing the Minimum and Maximum Axis Bounds

Select the primary X-axis and check the option On Tick Marks under the Axis Position of Format Axis task pane  (Do this to bring the years in the middle of 2D columns).

  • Select the points of the Year series and apply No Fill and No Border to them.
  • Finally, give an appropriate title of the chart as well as the axes titles. The following image is the final appearance of the chart.

Final Look of the Chart

Read More: How to Add Secondary X Axis in Excel

Which Things You Have to Keep in Mind?

  • Use the secondary axis in your chart only when you have data series with different units of measurement.
  • Label the secondary axis perfectly so that it indicates the unit of measurement or the data series it represents.
  • Maintain simplicity and clarity of the chart by avoiding overcrowding of the chart with too many series.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why would I need to use a secondary axis in my chart?

Answer: You may need to add a secondary axis for various purposes like when you have multiple data types, data with different trends, different units of measurement, etc.

2. What types of charts support a secondary axis in Excel?

Answer: Not all types of charts support the secondary axis. The following types of charts support secondary axis: Column chart, Line chart, Area chart, and Bar chart.

3. Can I display different chart types on the primary and secondary axes?

Answer: Yes, you can. Just change the chart type and give it to your desired format. You may format the primary axis as Clustered Column and the secondary axis to a Scatter Chart.


Hey! You have reached the end of the article on the secondary axis in Excel. If you want Excel to automatically add secondary axis in your chart, you will use the Recommended Charts option. Otherwise, you will add it manually using the Format Data Series option. If you find this article helpful, please share it with your friends. Moreover, do let us know if you have any further queries. Finally, please visit our site for more exciting articles on Excel.

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Md Junaed-Ar-Rahman, a Biomedical Engineering graduate from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, has contributed to the ExcelDemy project for one year. As a technical content developer, he has authored 15+ unique articles and actively addressed user problems. He participated in 2 specialized training programs on VBA and Chart & Dashboard design in Excel. His passion lies in solving problems uniquely and exploring new functions and formulas. Eager for future exploration, he aims to gain proficiency in applications... Read Full Bio

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