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This seems like a simple question, but I can't find a solution online. I'm creating surface plots in Excel, and I wanted to see if there was a way to set the bin size for coloring. Right now Excel defaulted to 4 bins (colors) for my data, but I want to display more to have more of a gradient effect.

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I was able to do it (if I understand your question correctly) in Excel 2007 by clicking on the vertical axis, doing right-click → Format Axis…, and then setting the “Major unit” to a Fixed value smaller than the default (“Auto”) value.

the chart that I created
                the "Format Axis" dialog box

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Thanks, that worked! Is there a way to do this with a 2D contour plot? It's defaulting to a certain number of contour curves, but I would like to see more. –  Amy Mar 20 '13 at 14:25
Umm… What happens when you try the exact same answer? –  Scott Mar 20 '13 at 23:37
On a 2D contour plot, there is no vertical axis to click on. –  Amy Mar 21 '13 at 2:57
@Amy: OK, perhaps I misunderstood the question. What, exactly, do you mean by “a 2D contour plot”? I don’t see any such chart option in Excel 2007. // P.S. When you ask questions like these, it’s a good idea to specify which version of the software you are using, because features and capabilities change, and therefore so do answers. –  Scott Mar 21 '13 at 17:02
Sorry, I'm using Excel 2010. In the available chart types, under Surface there is a type called contour. I actually just found the answer here: excelforum.com/excel-charting-and-pivots/… –  Amy Mar 21 '13 at 22:11

I just had the same problem. To clarify: If you're using a 2D surface plot (ie, a contour plot "viewed" from directly overhead), you can't edit the colour ranges. You need to switch to a 3D surface plot (which has all three axes), and edit the vertical axis in that. Then when you switch back to a 2D surface plot, those edited values will be applied.

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