Add a Data Callout Label to Charts in Excel 2013

I cannot say enough good things about Excel 2013’s new charting features. Thank you Microsoft for finally giving us some new options! One of the many new features in Excel charting is the Data Callout Label. In previous versions of Excel, one could easily add a data label to their chart, but these labels were often positioned in a way that made them hard to read, especially if the chart’s fill colors were dark (black numbers on a dark background = zero contrast). The new Data Callout Labels make it easier to show the details about the data series or its individual data points in a clear and easy to read format.

How to Add a Data Callout Label

  1. Click on the data series or chart.
  2. In the upper right corner, next to your chart, click the Chart Elements button (plus sign), and then click Data Labels.
  3. A right pointing arrow will appear, click on this arrow to view the submenu.
  4. Select Data Callout.

data callout labels

Once the Data Callout Labels have been added, you can re-position them by clicking on their borders and dragging to a new position.

If the Data Callouts appear to clutter your chart, you can move it and/or re-size it by clicking on the resize handles of the label.  You can also apply advanced formatting by right clicking the label and selecting Format Data Labels. This will open a task pane on the right side of your screen with options for formatting position, number formatting, and more.

format labels

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19 thoughts on “Add a Data Callout Label to Charts in Excel 2013

    1. You choose the data point by clicking once on one of the points in the series. If you want to create a label for only one data point in a series, after you have clicked on one of the data points, pause and then click once on the data point you want the label to show on. Hope this helps!

      1. Steve, You can still apply data labels in 2010, right click on the data point and select Add Data Labels. Once the labels display, you can format them by right clicking on the data point again and then select Format Data Labels. Hope this helps!

      2. You’re very kind – thank you! But what I’m trying to do is add a label with a connecting arrow. Secondarily (and this is outside the topic) I wanted to add vertical event bars between the labels. For example in a chart with 12/24 showing no gifts and 12/15 showing 17 gifts, a red vertical line between the two with text somewhere stating, “Santa’s Visit.”

      3. To add vertical gridlines:
        1. Click on the chart
        2. Go to the Chart Tools / Layout tab
        3. In the Axes group, click the Gridlines button and then select Primary Vertical Gridlines.

        As for a connecting line, you could draw one on your chart using the line tool found on the Insert tab, Shapes button. There are also arrows and text boxes you can use. Once the line has been inserted, a Drawing Tools ribbon will show with formatting options.

  1. Why do my axis labels still show below the axis even though they are in the data callouts? I’m dealing with some negative data so the callouts are ideal. Thanks

    1. Hi there,
      Axis Titles and Data Callouts are two different things. You can turn your Axis Titles off to hide them. In Excel 2013, select your chart and then go to the Layout tab and look for the Axis Titles button. You will be able to turn them on/off there. If you are using 2016, select your chart and click the green plus button to the right of the chart, and look for the Axis button. Hope this helps!

  2. Hi Steve, I have seen video clip of excel whereby when the user places the pointer on the graph (Bar chart) the data callout appear. How to hide it and make it appear like the comment?

    1. Hi Dante,

      I don’t think you can add multiple data call outs for each series, however it is possible to include more than one piece of data in a data call out. Here’s how you do that:

      1. Add the call out.
      2. Right click on a call out, and select Format Data Labels.
      3. This will display Label Options where you can select which data you want to see in the call out. You can also select how the call out data is separated (with a comma, semicolon, new line, etc.)

      If you want to show different call out data in any of the items in the series, click once on that call out, then click again to isolate it and then go through the steps above.

      I hope this helps!

    1. Hi Barry, thanks for your question! Check to see what format your file is saved as. If it is .xls then you will need to convert it to the current format, .xlsx
      To do this, select File / Info and then click the Convert button. Good luck!

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