Customize C# Chart Options - Axis, Labels, Grouping, Scrolling, and More

Here, we look at all the typical ways you need to customize your chart’s axis using FlexChart. FlexChart is a cross-platform .NET component supported in WinForms, WPF, UWP, Xamarin, ASP.NET MVC, and Blazor (as of 2020 v2). There’s even a JavaScript version.

The API is mostly the same for each platform as it enables flexible customization of the chart axis. Configure the axis line visibility, labels, tick marks, gridlines, title and position. You can also create logarithmic axis scales, add multiple axes along the same scale, reverse the axis and more.

In this post, we cover:

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Display or Hide the Chart Axis Line

FlexChart does not display the vertical axis line by default because it follows modern style trends that emphasize minimal design. This behavior can be changed by setting the AxisLine property of either axis to true or false.

The following snippet makes the y-axis visible in FlexChart:

flexChart.AxisY.AxisLine = true;

hide chart axis line
Figure 1 - Hide the chart axis line

Display C# Chart Axis Titles

All chart axes can be identified by a title that helps clarify the values being plotted. In FlexChart this can be done by setting the Title property of either axis. You can also customize the title’s font and color using the TitleStyle property.

The following snippet sets and styles the axis titles:

flexChart.AxisX.Title = "Day of Week";   
flexChart.AxisX.TitleStyle.StrokeColor = Color.Blue;   
flexChart.AxisY.Title = "Amount - In Dollars";   
flexChart.AxisY.TitleStyle.StrokeColor = Color.Blue;

style axis title
Figure 2 - Style the axis title

Manage Overlapping Axis Labels

A common problem when designing a modern chart with minimal design is loss of data. This happens when you have a chart with too many ordinal axis labels. A common solution is to hide overlapping labels, which results in a loss of data readability.

FlexChart is designed to provide flexible options for any scenario. It can show all the labels, rotate the labels, hide overlapping labels, trim or wrap long labels, and even stagger the labels to make the most readable chart.

Configure the overlapping axis label behavior in FlexChart by setting the axis OverlappingLabels property and the StaggeredLines property.

Overlapping options include: Show, Auto (hides to avoid overlap), Trim, and WordWrap.

flexChart.AxisX.OverlappingLabels = OverlappingLabels.Show;  
flexChart.AxisX.StaggeredLines = 2;

Overlap or stagger axis labels Figure 3 - Overlap or stagger axis labels

Additionally, you can rotate labels as well by setting the LabelAngle property. FlexChart even has a smart built-in feature where you can set the LabelAngle property to Double.NaN and it will only rotate the labels when necessary.

flexChart.AxisX.LabelAngle = Double.NaN;

Rotate axis labels
Figure 4 - Rotate axis labels

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Format Axis Labels

You can present the axis labels in a variety of formats, including dates, currency, percentage or custom formats. This can be done by setting a .NET standard or custom format string to the Format property of the axis. The following table shows some common axis format strings that you can use in FlexChart.

Original Axis Label
Format String Result
1/1/2016 "MMM-dd-yyyy" Jan-01-2016
1/1/2016 "MMMM d, yy" January 1, 16
45000 "c0" $45,000
37 "n2" 37.00
0.987 "p1" 98.7%
40000 "#,K" 40K
40000000 "#,,M" 40M

Tip: to create a modern chart with minimal design, consider formatting long axis labels to display with fewer digits, such as displaying 40,000,000 million as 40M.

The following snippet shows a couple examples.

flexChart.AxisX.Format = "MMM-dd-yyyy";   
flexChart.AxisY.Format = "C0";  

format date axis labels
Figure 5 - Format date axis labels

Configure Tick Marks, Gridlines and Intervals

FlexChart lets you configure every element of the axis interval, such as the major and minor gridlines and tick marks. The following snippet shows how to set several of these properties.

flexChart.AxisY.MinorTickMarks = TickMark.Outside;   
flexChart.AxisY.MajorTickMarks = TickMark.Outside;  
flexChart.AxisY.MajorGrid = true;  
flexChart.AxisY.MinorGrid = false;   
flexChart.AxisY.MajorUnit = 5000;   
flexChart.AxisY.MinorUnit = 1000;   
flexChart.AxisY.MajorGridStyle.StrokeColor = Color.Red;   

style axis gridlines and tricks
Figure 6 - Style axis gridlines and ticks

Configure Hierarchical Axis Grouping

To visually organize axis labels by category or quarter you can enable axis grouping. FlexChart supports flexible options from simple to custom. If your data set already has the grouping field, you can simply set the axis GroupNames property to the field name by which to group.

To display more than one group level on the axis specify a comma-separated string to the GroupNames property.

flexChart1.AxisX.GroupNames = "Continent";

You can also customize the display of horizontal and vertical lines between the groups to further aide with the visualization.

configure axis grouping Figure 7 - Configure axis grouping

But there’s more! You can use hierarchical data by specifying the GroupItemsPath property of the axis. You can also provide axis grouping for numbers and dates that work with any data set.

To provide numerical and date axis grouping, FlexChart includes a custom IAxisGroupProvider interface and a couple samples to get started.

Check out this UWP axis grouping sample.

data axis grouping
Figure 8 - Configure collapsible axis grouping

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Change the Axis Scale

When you create a chart using FlexChart, it uses a linear axis scale by default. You can control the axis bounds by setting the axis Min and Max properties. You can also customize the scale to better meet your needs when the data is spread over a large range by configuring a logarithmic scale (log scale).

FlexChart will use a logarithmic axis when you set the LogBase property of the axis.

flexChart.AxisY.LogBase = 10;

axis scale
Figure 9 - Create logarithmic axes

Enable Range Scrolling with Axis Scrollbars

Axis scrollbars allow the user to scale the axis and zoom into a chart on the fly. Axis scrollbars can be used to help visualize more data in a smaller space or allow a user to drill-down into a region of the plot without much additional coding from the developer.
With FlexChart, you can enable a range axis scrollbar with one line of code.

The range scrollbar is more than a standard scrollbar because it allows the user to adjust the scale of the axis to essentially “zoom” into the chart.

// WinForms code 
AxisScrollbar scrollbar = new C1.Win.Chart.Interaction.AxisScrollbar(flexChart.AxisX);  
//WPF and UWP code  
flexChart.AxisX.Scrollbar = new C1AxisScrollbar();  

Figure 10 - Add chart axis scrollbars

Plotting Multiple Axes

Mixing different scales with multiple axes and plot types if sometimes necessary to visualize your most complex data sets.

With FlexChart you can visualize different chart types in a single plot area. Plots can share axes, or each have their own. You’re not even limited to two Y axes, as FlexChart can display any number of X or Y axes as shown below.

plotting multiple axes
Figure 11 - Add multiple Y axes

In order to plot a series on the secondary axes, you can define its AxisX and AxisY properties as new Axis objects. Then just set the axis position and other properties to customize the display. The axes get added to the chart once they’re assigned to a series.

var yAxis2 = new Axis  
    AxisLine = false,  
    Position = Position.Right,  
    MajorGrid = false,  
    MajorTickMarks = TickMark.None,  
    Title = "Velocity – in m/sec",  
    Format = "n0",  
var series = new Series  
    SeriesName = "Velocity",  
    ChartType = ChartType.Line,  
    Binding = "Velocity",  
    AxisY = yAxis2,  

To see all of these features in action, download the ChartAxis101 sample: WinForms | UWP | WPF

Or launch the FlexChartExplorer demo from the WinForms or WPF Demo Explorer.

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