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Create a Column Chart with Primary and Secondary Axes

Describes usage for primary and secondary axes for a chart and explains how to set the secondary axis and set manual scaling

Most charts consist of an x-axis and a y-axis, which are often enough to tell a complete data story. In some cases, a secondary axis is required, such as when you want to display a series with different range of values within the same chart. 

The following chart shows revenue as the primary axis on the left and cost of sales as the secondary axis on the right. Showing both axes in this chart provide a more complete story around sales by showing the relationship between the revenue generated from sales and the cost of sales. Both axes are scaled to focus on relevant data ranges.

Example of a Column with Primary and Secondary Axes Set Manually

You can configure Bar, Column, and Line charts with a secondary axis. This article will explain how to set the primary and secondary axes and adjust the scale.

Create a Column Chart

The following is an example of a column chart with two data series – where both accounts are scaled by default on the primary axis. 

Example of a Column Chart with Two Data Series

You can improve the readability of this chart by defining primary and secondary axes and simplifying chart labels.

To create a 2-data series column chart:

  1. Navigate to the perspective and dashboard where you will create the column chart and click DIS-EditMode.png.
  2. Drag columnChart.png to the design area to create a column chart.
  3. Add two accounts to the charts. 
  • Add Revenue
  • Add Cost of Sales
  1. Click DIS-appearanceSettingsTab.png and give your chart a name.
    Example: Planned Revenue vs Cost of Sales

Configure Primary and Secondary Axes

When creating a chart with a primary axis and secondary axis, determine which data series is the primary and secondary axis.  In this example, revenue is the primary data set. You want show the relationship between cost of sales and revenue. Cost of sales in this example is the secondary axis.

Use the Data Settings tab to specify an account as a primary axis or secondary axis and to change the some of visual presentation of that data. For example, change the series type, show data labels, and change the color representing the data.

Define the Secondary Axis

All accounts added to a chart are set as the primary axis by default. The following is an example of the chart after changing the Cost of Sales account to a line chart and a secondary axis:

Example of Column Chart with a Data Series Set as a Secondary Axis

The Cost of Sales for this example appears visually higher than Revenue. The scale of the primary axis on the left (in millions) is different from the scale (in thousands) of the secondary axis on the right. 

To define the secondary axis:

  1. Click DIS-dataSettingsTab.png to access data settings.
  2. Change an account in the chart to a secondary axis:
    Example: Expand the account: Cost of Sales
    1. Change the Series Type to Line.
    2. Change Series Y Axis to Secondary

Adjust the Scale of Primary and Secondary Axes

You can adjust the scale of the primary and secondary axes from the Appearance tab to enhance the visual impact of this chart. When manually setting the scale of an axis, keep the following in mind:

  • By default, an axis is set to auto scale. Make note of the minimum and maximum values on the axis before turning off Axis Auto Scaling. This information will help you set the minimum-maximum for the data series.
  • Adjusting the minimum and maximum values between two distinctly different data ranges may be necessary to achieve the visual result you are looking for.

To change the scale of the axes:

  1. Click DIS-appearanceSettingsTab.png and navigate to the Axis section to change the appearance of the primary and secondary axes. 
  2. Configure the primary axis:
    1. Make note of the value range. Example:  0 - 3.2 (million)
    2. Toggle off the Primary Axis Auto Scaling.
    3. Set the Primary Axis Minimum. Example: 1000000
    4. Set the Primary Axis Maximum. Example: 2400000
    5. Set the Primary Axis Interval. Example: 500000
  3. Configure the secondary axis:
    1. Make note of the value range: Example: 0 - 800 (thousand)
    2. Toggle off the Secondary Axis Auto Scaling.
    3. Set the Primary Axis Minimum. Example: 500000
    4. Set the Primary Axis Maximum. Example: 800000
    5. Set the Secondary Axis Interval. Example: 150000

This completes this example on primary and secondary axes and manual axis scaling.

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