How-to Select Data Series in an Excel Chart when they are Un-selectable?

How-to Select an Excel Chart Series

When I first learned to make Excel charts, I was taught to select the chart and then select the data series with my mouse.  However, have you ever created a chart with so many data series in the graph that you cannot select the right chart series with your mouse?  Or perhaps your data series are overlapping or just individual points.  When you have this situation, you need another way to select the data series that you need instead of using your mouse.

You will notice in this Excel chart that both John and Steve have the same data points, so how can you select the data series that is behind another?  Read on…image

Option 1

A) Select the Chart in Excel

B) Press your Up or Down Arrows on your keyboard and scroll through each data series until you find the data series that you are seeking.

Option 2

A) Select the Chart in Excel

B) Select the Layout Ribbon and then choose the Chart Elements picklist from the Current Selection Group.


Then choose the series that you want.


You won’t need to use this technique all the time, but it will help in certain situations so you need to add it to your Excel Tip and Trick bag.

Sometimes an Excel Movie is worth a 1,000 words.  Watch it in action in this video to see it in action:

Video Tutorial


Please leave me a comment and let me know if you have any other tips or tricks for Excel.  Also, make sure you subscribe to my blog so that you will get the latest Excel Dashboard and Company Dashboard techniques.



  1. Hello,
    I Like to look at your Youtube videos and I am allways can make the same them after looking.
    But this one i cant found “how you made to have this Graph in this video “The Quickest Way to Select an Data Series in an Excel Chart”
    I unterstand how you chan,ge but i am not able to beginn with the same Graph then you and the four possibilities.
    Thanks for your answer

    Roger BLOSER

    • Hi Roger,

      It is just a simple line chart. Simply set up your data in the same way and highlight from Cell A1 to the bottom-right of the data set. Then click on Insert ribbon and then the Line Chart button. Hope this helps!

  2. What to do when pressing the Up or Down Arrows on the keyboard doesn’t result anymore in moving among the data series on the chart? My Win 10 was corrupted a weak ago and was reset and Office was removed and re-installed. This issue started after that event. Hope there is some solution to recover this Excel property of moving among the series using the keyboard arrows.

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  4. I’ve used this method for years in Excel for Windows. But after recently switching to a Mac computer, this trick does not work. I’ve tried using the arrows while holding down shift, control, option, and command keys and no luck. Any idea how to leverage this for Excel for Mac? So frustrating!


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