8. Formatting Chart Titles

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Chart titles need to be written and formatted correctly so they are easy to read and understand. Learn how to create static and dynamic chart titles for your charts.

Lesson Notes

Formatting chart titles

- Add chart titles by clicking on the Layout tab and selecting Chart Title
- Chart titles should be aligned left and the font size should be reduced
- Always include the unit in your chart titles, especially if your axes don't have labels

Dynamic chart titles

1 Link a chart title to a cell on the Excel sheet
2 Use & to chain text strings to a cell value
3 Use the TEXT function so that the cell value is in the correct format within the title

Keyboard shortcuts

CTRL + B: Bold text
F2: Jump back inside a formula


In PowerPoint, you have the freedom to add titles to charts manually, using a text box and other features such as lines. You can also add text boxes and lines in Excel, but in fact, it's much easier to just add a title within the chart object. To do so, select the chart, go the design tab in the ribbon, and chart title. I'll include a title above the chart.

Then simply start typing your chart title.

Then press enter once you've finished. When using titles in Excel, I'll normally reduce the font to something a lot smaller, say 12, and I'll move my heading the the left hand side. I think this looks better than when the title is placed in the middle of the chart. So as you can see, titles for charts are pretty easy to create. I try to make sure my titles are always in the same format. The first part of the title describes the contents of each bar, in this case, the revenue by region. The second part, normally not in bold, is the unit.

To remove the bold from the percentage sign, I simply select it with the mouse, and control B.

Sometimes, particularly when modeling, you may want to change the title of a chart dynamically when the value of an input is changing. In this example, I have a chart showing a revenue projection for the next six years based on a growth rate of 10%. However, when I change my growth rate to, say, 15%, the numbers change but unfortunately, our title does not. So how do we link our title to an input cell? We'll start by creating the ideal title within a cell itself. To do this, I'm going to write a text string that will correspond to the title of the chart, and include the growth rate input using the ampersand sign. So I'll write equals, open inverted commas, and write revenue projection for, and then close inverted commas. I'll then write an ampersand sign and include the growth rate figure. I'll then write another ampersand sign and continue the string that says annual growth rate. And of course, I'll include my units as well. I'll then close the inverted commas and press enter.

This version of the title, when I update my growth rate also updates accordingly. It's showing 0.1 instead of 10%. I'd like it to show 10%. To do this, I'll simply pass my B4 value into a text function. So I'll press F2 to jump back into the formula. I'll wrap a text function around B4, and the format of the text will be 0%.

I'll then close the bracket and press enter. Now our title will change perfectly within this cell when I change my growth rate. All I need to do now is to link the title of my chart to this cell.

So I'll select the title, and then in the formula bar. I'll simply write equals, and select the cell, which is B5.

Now when I change my growth rate, say to 8%, then the title changes automatically. When you have the input to a model as the title for your chart always consider a dynamic title. Otherwise, when you change the input and re-plot the data on the chart, your title may be incorrect and lead to confusion for the reader.