Adobe Illustrator's graph tool is... special. A veteran of many software updates (successfully surviving all of them unscathed...) one of its many quirks is that you cannot resize a graph object that hasn't been ungrouped, other than by using the Scale tool (S).

So, if you have a graph like this:

enter image description here

...and you need to adapt it to fit in a smaller vertical (or horizontal) space, you end up with something like this:

enter image description here

Note the ugly squashed distorted text labels on the Y axis.

You can select just the text labels, using the Group Selection tool (white arrow with plus sign, no keyboard shortcut) and clicking twice on a label. Is there any way to tell each of these to reset their scaling? (Transform Each is greyed out because it's a graph and won't settle for any of that new-fangled nonsense).

Or, any other way of scaling a chart that keeps the text labels in the right place, at the right dimensions?

Some options I'm aware of, all of which are a bit rubbish:

  • Replace them. Setting the fill for the labels to none, and just putting your own labels in, aligning and spacing them with the tools in the Align palette. This is a pain when you have lots of charts or need to update the charts frequently
  • Bodge the Y-axis scale. Changing the Y axis scale of the chart, instead of scaling it. So in my example, I might under Graph type > Value Axis > Override calculated values set 'max' to 4,000, halving the height of the chart, and doubling the amount of divisions. Then with the direct selection tool, I'd drag the vertical axis line down to the 2000 mark, and set the fill of everything above 2000 to none. This works (and is my current favoured option), but it's a serious hack and scatters my files with invisible chart debris (and the direct selection tool work needs re-doing each time the data is updated).
  • Abusing Illustrator's type tools to compensate. For example, if you scaled the text vertically to 50%, setting the 'Vertical Scale' option in the Character window to 200%, hoping the two distorting scalings will cancel each other out. Sounds like a recipe for horribly unclean type.
  • Start again. Deleting the chart and creating a new one at the appropriate size. This is sometimes the easiest way, and results in no debris, but it's obviously not an ideal solution.

Any other / better ways?

2 Answers 2


Select the text in the graph with the Direct Selection Tool a, then press Shift+cmd+x (Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+x (Windows) to reset the font scaling back to normal.

  • great answer - wonderful tip that I had not found, and far easier than the selected answer! Cannot understand why someone had downvoted it (except perhaps the use of Apple key "cmd" - for Windoze that would be "Ctrl", i.e. Shift-Ctrl-x)
    – Argalatyr
    Jun 29, 2014 at 0:58

Not sure if I understand the problem correctly, but the character 'scaling' values need to be set back to 100%.

I'd do it like this: After scaling the graph object using the Scaling tool, change the horizontal and/or vertical 'scaling' in the Character palette back to the value of 100%.

Then maybe increase/decrease the font size of all text elements collectively by using the keyboard shortcut Cmd-Shift-. / Cmd-Shift-, on the selected graph object.

If the positions of the numbers need to be adjusted, they can still be selected individually within the grouped graph object using the Direct Selection tool (white arrow)...

  • Huh, you're right - all this time I'd completely overlooked the fact the other of the character palette values was changing. e.g. when scaling to 50% vertically, I was looking at the Vertical Scale in the character palette and seeing it still at 100%... and I didn't even notice that the horizontal scaling had jumped to 200%! Thanks for pointing that out. I hope this is new in CS6, else I'm painfully unobservant...! Sep 19, 2012 at 16:51
  • I think this has always been the case.
    – e100
    Sep 20, 2012 at 10:59

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