Does anyone know how to make the text on the Category axis of a graph in Illustrator on the right look like the one on the left?

Illustrator graph label comparison

On the one on the left I have done it manually but surely there is a way to input the data from excel so it does it automatically?

  • How are you doing it manually? Should be easy enough to add a transform effect to all the labels at once. I don't think you can do it automatically.
    – Cai
    Jun 9, 2016 at 15:55
  • Hey. So I have added them in the Data table when you right click on the table and they come up like that in the black underneath. Whenever I have tried to add a transform effect to it it does change to vertical as I need however its still all bunched up and I cant seperate them vertically to match each green bar collumn. Jun 9, 2016 at 16:03

1 Answer 1


I don't think you can change the orientation automatically, you can add a transform effect to the labels all in one go which should be easy enough.

  1. Use the Direct Selection Tool to select all the labels.

  2. Set the text alignment to either left or right depending on the direction you want the text.

  3. Effects → Distort & Transform → Transform... Set the transform origin to the top right and a rotation of -90 degrees. You will need to set a horizontal and vertical amount to compensate for the change in position.

enter image description here

The only drawback is that the transform effect seems to disappear if you update the data in your graph. If you havn't set any other effects since you can easily reselt the labels and reapply the last used effect from the top of the effects menu though.

Setting up your data

graph data setup

In your data table, you use the first column for the category labels. Any data in the same row appears under the same category. If you only have one data set, you only use one column after the category labels. If you have multiple data sets you use a new column for each data set. You can name the data sets using the top row of each of those columns, Illustrator will generate a legend and color each data set.

That applies to column, stacked column, bar, stacked bar, line, area, and radar graphs.

Scatter graphs cannot have category labels as both axes measure values. Pie graphs also cannot have category labels as each new row defines a new graph.

Everything you need to know about creating graphs should be in the Illustrator help docs:

  • Hey thanks so much for your help thats really great! Could I possibly take a look at your data table to make sure im laying mine out correctly? Jun 9, 2016 at 20:47
  • @CourtneyHobbs no problem. I updated my answer with an explanation of the data table
    – Cai
    Jun 9, 2016 at 21:20
  • Hey @cai, Can't thank you enough for your swift response on this. I knew it was something obvious but you know when you've stared at something for so long !? lol. How did you get your labels to align right with the bottom of each label meeting the bottom of the graph? Thanks again Jun 10, 2016 at 8:00
  • First change the alignment of the text to right-aligned (so that the text begins directly under the correct bar) then set the transform origin top the right. Then you can adjust them with a small horizontal/vertical move to get them in the right place.
    – Cai
    Jun 10, 2016 at 8:19
  • You can see the transform settings I used in the screenshot I posted, just remember to set the text-alignment first.
    – Cai
    Jun 10, 2016 at 8:22

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