How to Add and Customize Data Labels in Microsoft Excel Charts

When you create an Excel chart containing a ton of data, it can be difficult to decipher it all at a glance. One useful way to specify information is to use data labels for a set of data points. Here we will show you how to use data labels.

You can choose which series or points to use data labels for and select their position. For example, data labels can become part of the bar chart bars or appear as callouts on a pie chart.

Add Data Labels to an Excel Chart

A great example of a chart that can benefit from data labels is a pie chart. While you can use a legend for portions of a pie chart, you can save space and create an attractive chart by using data labels. We will use a pie chart for our example.

Select your pie chart and go to the “Chart Design” tab that opens. Open the Add Chart Element drop-down menu in the Chart Layouts section of the ribbon.

Add chart elements in the Chart Design tab.

Hover over Data Labels and select an item from the pop-up menu. For a pie chart, you will see options such as Center, Inner End, Outer End, Best Fit, and Data Leader. The available positions may vary depending on the type of chart you are using.

Data label positions

If you’re using Excel on Windows, you have an additional way to add data labels to your chart. Select a chart and click the Chart Elements (+) button in the top right or left corner.

Check the box for data labels and use the right arrow to select their position in the pop-up menu.

Data Label Positions in Windows

Once you see the data labels on the chart, you can experiment with different positions to get the look you want.

Customize data label details

After you add data labels, you can choose which information to include, such as category name, value or percentage, or data from specific cells.

Select your chart and return to the “Add Chart Element” drop-down menu on the “Chart Design” tab. Hover over Data Labels and select More Data Label Options.

Additional label options in the Add Chart Elements menu

When the Data Label Format sidebar opens, make sure you’re on the Label Options tab. You can then expand the Label Options section below and mark the details you want to display.

You can also enable leader lines, add a legend key, and choose a separator type.

Label options in the Data Label Format sidebar

Set up data labels

Along with the details you want to include in your data labels, you can change their appearance in the Data Label Format sidebar.

At the top of the sidebar, use the various tabs to make changes. Keep in mind that the options differ depending on the data label type. For example, you can change the fill color and adjust the transparency of data callouts. Other customization options include:

Options for displaying data label formatting in the sidebar

After you add data labels, you can customize other parts of the chart. For example, you can remove the legend or change the position of the chart title.

Pie chart with data labels in Excel

If you want to remove the data labels later, just go back to “Chart Design” > “Add Chart Elements” and select “None” for the data labels.

With data labels, you can give your chart viewers a quick and easy way to read parts of a chart at a glance. For more help with charts in Excel, learn how to create a chart template or how to rename a data series.

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