Charts should clarify, not obscure.

Setting up a chart can get your point across more effectively than presenting the same data in the form of a table, regardless of what the data actually is. The problem is that the more data you have in your chart, the harder it will be to understand without a legend. If you've created a legend-less chart or have inherited a spreadsheet containing a chart from which somebody removed the legend, you don't need to recreate the chart from scratch in order to add a legend to it.

Launch Excel, open your spreadsheet, and then select your chart.

Select the "Chart Layout" tab, and then click the "Legend" button in the Labels group.

Click the menu entry corresponding to the location where you want the legend to appear. You can display the legend at the top, bottom, left or right of the chart; you can also overlap it over the chart, either on the left or on the right side. Test various positions until you find the ideal one.

Tips

  • To remove the legend, click the "Legend" button, and then select "No Legend."

    Click "Legend," and then select "Legend Options" to change various legend formatting options, such as font size.

Warnings

  • Information in this article applies to Excel for Mac 2011. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.