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How to rename a data series in Microsoft Excel

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A data series in Microsoft Excel is a set of data that is displayed in a row or a column, which is presented using a chart or diagram. To help you analyze your data, you may prefer to rename your data series.

Instead of renaming individual column or row labels, you can rename a data set in Excel by editing the chart or chart. You may want to do this if your data labels are opaque and difficult to understand immediately.

You can rename all data sets presented in a chart or graph, including a basic Excel bar chart.

RELATED: How to make a bar chart in Microsoft Excel

To demonstrate, we have a basic bar chart showing a list of quarterly fruit sales. The diagram shows four bars for each product, with the bars marked at the bottom ̵

1; these are your data series.

In this example, the data series are labeled alphabetically from A to D.

An example of an Excel worksheet with a bar chart showing several data sets

Labels like these would not be very helpful for this example as you would not be able to determine the time periods.

This is where you look to rename the data series. To do this, right-click on the chart or diagram and click on the “Select data” option.

Right-click on your chart and then click Select Data to begin renaming your data series.

This opens the “Select data source” window. Your multiple data series will be listed under the “Legend Entries (Series)” column.

To start renaming your data series, select one from the list and then click the “Edit” button.

Select your data series and then click

In the “Edit Series” box, you can start renaming your data series labels. By default, Excel will use the column or row label using the cell reference to determine this.

Replace the cell reference with a static name of your choice. In this example, our data series labels will reflect annual quarters (Q1 2019, Q2 2019, etc).

You can also replace this with another cell reference if you prefer to use labels that are separate from your data. This will ensure that your chart is updated automatically if you choose to change labels displayed in these cells at a later date.

After renaming your data series label, click “OK” to confirm.

Rename your data series in

This takes you back to the “Select Data Source” window, where you can repeat the steps for each data series label.

To reset your labels to the same as your column or row labels, repeat the steps above, and replace the static labels with the cell reference for each column or row label.

You must name the spreadsheet that contains the label when you do so. For example with =Sheet1!$B$1 here would show the label in cell B1.

For this example, this shows the letter A.

Use the cell reference for a column or row label to use that label as the data series label in your chart or chart.

This means that any changes to your column or row labels will also update the data series labels in the chart or chart.

After renaming all data labels, click “OK” to save the changes.

After changing labels for data series, click

Your chart or charts show your updated data series labels.

These are displayed at the bottom of the chart and are color-coded to match your data.

An Excel bar chart showing manually updated data series labels.

You can make further changes to the formatting of your graph or chart at this point. For example, you can add a trend line to your Microsoft Excel chart to help you see more patterns in your data.

RELATED: How to work with trend lines in Microsoft Excel charts

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