In this tutorial you'll learn many different ways to customize the X-axis and Y-axis of your visuals. Not all visuals have axes or can be customized; Pie charts, for example, don't have axes. And customization options vary from visual to visual, too many options to cover in a single article. So we'll take a look at some of the most-used axes customizations and get you comfortable using the visual formatting tab in the Power BI report canvas.  


 This page applies to both Power BI service and Power BI Desktop. These customizations, which are available when the Format (the paint roller icon  ) is selected, are also available in Power BI Desktop.

Watch Amanda customize her X and Y axes and demonstrate the various ways to control concatenation when using drill-up and drill-down. Then follow the step-by-step instructions below the video to try it out yourself using the Retail Analysis sample.

Customizing visualization X-axes in reports

Sign in to the Power BI service and open the Retail Analysis Sample report in Editing View. To follow along, connect to the Retail Analysis sample.

  1. Create a new column chart that shows this year's sales and last year's sales by fiscal month. 

  2. Convert it to a Stacked column chart.

  3. In the Visualizations and Filters pane, select Format (the paint roller icon  ) to reveal the customization options.

  4. Expand the X-Axis options.

  5. Turn the X-axis on and off by selecting the On (or Off) slider. For now, leave it On.  Turning the X-axis off removes the X-axis label and saves space for more data.

  6. Turn the X-axis title On and display the name of the X axis -- in this case, FiscalMonth.  

    After all these customizations, your column chart should look something like this:


     If the X-axis is categorized by the report owner as a date type, the Type option will display and you can select between continuous or categorical. 

To revert all the X-axis customization you've done so far, select Revert To Default at the bottom of the X-axis customization pane.

Customizing visualization Y-axes in reports

Some visualizations have Y-axes and these too can be customized. There are even some visualizations that have dual Y-axes, and you'll learn how to customize those as well.

  1. From the New Stores tab of the Retail Analysis Sample report, select the chart "This Year Sales by FiscalMonth."

  2. From the Fields pane, select Store > Name to add it as a Legend.

  3. In the Visualizations and Filters pane, select Format (the paint roller icon.  ) to reveal the customization options.

  4. Expand the Y-Axis options and ensure that the Y-Axis slider is toggled to On.

  5. Turn the Title On so that colleagues can see at-a-glance what is being measured. And set the Style to Show title only (instead of Show both or Show unit only) since the Y-axis already shows that the unit of measurement is thousands of dollars.

  6. Change the Y-axis Position to Right to move it away from the legend and easier to read.

  7. Change the Start and End range to display only the companies with the higher sales.

    • Set Start to 35,000
    • Set End to 100,000
  8. After all these customizations, your line chart should look like this:

    To revert all the Y-axis customization you've done so far, select Revert To Default, at the bottom of the Y-axis customization pane.

Customizing visualizations with dual Y-axes

First you'll create a Combo chart that looks at the impact store count has on sales.  This is the same chart that is created in the Combo chart Tutorial. Then you'll format the dual Y-axes.

Create a chart with two Y-axes

  1. Create a new line chart that tracks Sales > Gross Margin last year % by Time > Month

  2. Sort the visual by month by selecting the ellipses (...) and choosing Sort by Month

  3. In January GM% was 35%, peaked at 45% in April, dropped in July and peaked again in August. Will we see a similar pattern in sales last year and this year?

  4. Add This Year Sales > Value and Last Year Sales to the line chart. The scale of GM% Last Year is much smaller than the scale of Sales which makes it difficult to compare.      

  5. To make the visual easier to read and interpret, convert the line chart to a Line and Stacked Column chart.

  6. Drag Gross Margin Last Year % from Column Values into Line Values. Power BI creates two axes, thus allowing the datasets to be scaled differently; the left measures dollars and the right measures percentage.


Format the secondary Y-axis

  1. In the Visualizations pane, select the paint roller icon to display the formatting options.

  2. Expand the Y-Axis options by selecting the down arrow.

  3. Scroll through the list until you find the options for Show secondary. Toggle Show Secondary from Off to On.

  4. (Optional) Customize the two axes. If you switch Position for either the column axis or the line axis, then the two axes switch sides.

Add titles to both axes

With a visualization this complicated, it helps to add axes titles.  Titles help your colleagues understand the story your visualization is telling.

  1. Toggle Title to On for Y-Axis (Column) and the Y-Axis (Line).

  2. Set Style to Show title only.

  3. Your Combo chart now displays dual axes, both with titles.

For more information, see Tips and tricks for color formatting, labeling, and axis properties.

See also

More about Visualizations in Power BI reports

Customize titles, backgrounds, and legends

Customize colors and axis properties

Power BI - Basic Concepts

More questions? Try the Power BI Community