Add labels to data points in an Excel XY chart with free Excel add-on “XY Chart Labeler”


It is very easy to plot an XY Scatter chart in MS Excel, which is a graph displaying a group of data points that intersect across related variables (such as performance vs. time for example, or sales vs. profitability, etc).

What is not easy, however, is adding individual labels to these data points, requiring users to actually go in and label each data point manually.

If labeling a scatter chart is what you want then you need XY Chart Labeler, a free add-on for Excel that will use an Excel range to add labels to individual points in an XY scatterplot.

XY Chart Labeler works with Excel 2003, 2007 and 2010 on Windows or Mac.

XY Chart Labeler Screenshot

The problem: you have an XY Scatter plot like the one in the image below, where the columns in red values are plotted as data points, and you would like to add labels to these data points such that they would start to make more sense when a human looked at them.

I will use the table and chart below as in example, which charts the performance (score) of a handful of people on a task as well as the time they took to complete the task, converted into seconds.

Scatterplot screenshot1

The solution: download and install XY Chart Labeler. Next, open your Excel sheet and click on the new “XY Chart Labels” menu that appears (above the ribbon). Next, click on “Add Labels” in order to determine the range to use for your labels.

XYplot screenshot 1b

In the dialog that appears, select the range where your labels will be coming from (as illustrated below in this example)

XYplot screenshot 2

You will get the result below:

Scatterplot screenshot - labelled

You can tweak the labels to display in any orientation (in Office 2010, right click on any labels then select ‘format data labels’, click ‘alignment’ in the left sidebar of the dialog that appears, then ‘text direction’. Choose the direction you want or enter a custom angle).

Thus, you can get the result below:

Scatterplot screenshot - labelled horiz

The verdict: if you need to do this sort of thing, XY Chart Labeler is a godsend. As you may expect I stumbled on this one after spending a lot of time wrestling with Excel to figure out how to do this, only to discover that my only recourse was to label my 100+ data points manually… until, that is, I found XY Chart Labeler.

I am still amazed that Microsoft doesn’t have this simple thing built into its most profitable software product of all time (MS Office). Kudos to the developers for releasing this plugin for free.

Version tested:

Compatibility: Office 2003, 2007 and 2010. Works on 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Office. Windows and Mac versions available. (Tested on MS Excel 2010 32 bit).

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 1.18 megs).