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In Excel 2003, I have a time series from a financial report that goes something like this:

         2007 2006 2005
Amount   300  200  100

I want to create a graph of the time series that looks something like this (please excuse the ugly ascii graph):

300|                .x
   |             ...
200|         .x..
   |      ...
100|    x
  0   2005   2006   2007

But intead of getting an upward sloping graph, excel wants to put my time series in reverse (the way it actually appears in the spreadsheet). Is there any way to make excel display the x axis in reverse of the way it normally does? I've tried manually reversing the range in the chart dialog (changing a range of B1:D3 to D3:B1), but excel just puts it back.

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5 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted
  1. Click the axis for the categories, values, or series whose plotting order you want to change.
  2. On the Format menu, click Selected Axis, and then click the Scale tab.

    Note Selected Axis is only available on the Format menu when a data series is selected.

  3. To reverse the plotting order, do one of the following:
    • For categories, select the Categories in reverse order check box.
    • For values, select the Values in reverse order check box.
    • For series in 3-D charts, select the Series in reverse order check box.


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Beautiful -- thank you so much! One more thing. When I checked "Categories in reverse order", the values of the Y axis moved to the right side. I had to check "Value (Y) axis crosses at maximum catetory" as well to get the Y axis values to appear on the left where they belong. –  JohnnyLambada Oct 9 '08 at 0:05
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If you have numerical data, don't make a "Line Chart", make an "XY Chart". This treats the X axis data as numerical values. If you look at more than the Line Chart and XY Chart icons, you will notice that you can apply styles that include markers and lines or lines only to both XY and Line charts.

Line charts are good for categorical X data (non-numerical labels) and for flexible axis scaling for actual dates (year-month-day) but not simple values like years.

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SJohnny, similar to you, I had some financial data displayed with dates on the Y axis, and I had the same problem; the line graph I created initially was backward. However, without using an XY graph, there's a simple way of fixing the chronological order of the data.

  1. Select the data you want to graph.
  2. Using the graph function (Chart Wizard), select a line graph.
  3. At step 3 of 4, under "primary axis," select "Time Scale." This should immediately correct the order for preview before you finsh creating the graph.
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Good answer. Just to point out again that when clicking Categories in Revers order it is worth clicking the option below "value (Y) axis crosses at maximum category" as this will keep the Y axis labels on the left hand side of the graph. I had a spreadsheet of our virtual office customers with the most dates at the top and wanted to plot it over time which initially came up backwards but the answer here fixed it. Thanks. Ian

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Hi Ian, this would be best left as a comment. –  JohnnyLambada Dec 19 '13 at 18:44
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