I plotted some data in a Box & Whiskers plot and I would like to draw a horizontal line across at a certain value. I don't normally do this type of chart, but typically when I need to do this I go to Format - draw shape - line and just draw a line where I need it and then format it how I would like it.

With the chart selected, I try to go to the format menu but everything in the "Insert Shapes" portion of the ribbon is grayed out, as is everything in "WordArt Styles", "Arrange", and "Size".

I also tried going to the "Insert" ribbon but the only thing that is not grayed out on that ribbon is "Header & Footer".

Having done some searching, I also went into Options - Advanced - Display Options for this Workbook and clicked "All" on the show objects part. I have saved and re-opened this workbook.

I'm running Excel 2017

This question was asked on Stack Overflow and it was suggested I try it here

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  • There is no Excel 2017. What version of Excel are you using exactly? Windows or Mac?
    – teylyn
    Mar 29, 2018 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


The Box and Whisker plots belong to the new chart type introduced with Excel 2016 and their functionality differs from the classic charts.

In Excel 2016 for Windows, you can select the chart and the Format ribbon will allow insertion of shapes, however, these will be worksheet objects in their own rights and not tied to the position of the chart. If you move the chart, the shape stays behind. In a classic chart, like a column chart, the shape stays in the chart.

This is just how these new charts work.

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  • You're correct, this is in Excel 2016, and to answer your former question, it's also on Windows. However, this is exactly what I tried to do. It's grayed out.
    – mauve
    Apr 2, 2018 at 12:40
  • I read it again. there's no way to do this with a standalone chart, only in a worksheet?
    – mauve
    Apr 2, 2018 at 12:49
  • Confirmed with 2016. It just won't let you do this with the box-and-whiskers chart. Unfortunately, because you can't add shapes directly to the chart, what you get when you print is just the chart. None of the overlay shapes are included. Tried Grouping the chart with shapes and that doesn't work for printing either. Grouping does keep the shapes with the chart when you move it around though.
    – Kent
    Feb 6, 2020 at 22:59

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