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One of my main problems with Numbers is the fact that it has much less of the functionality of Excel. That's why I barely use Numbers.

One of the main things that I always thought impossible was plotting two axes on one graph. This is my main reason for my dislike of Numbers.

Now that many other interesting questions that I didn't think had answers are getting answered, I thought I might ask this question:

How can I plot two lines on one graph using a secondary axis in Numbers?

  • I think the accepted answer for this should now be changed as this is now possible. – Nick Hawes Jun 28 '14 at 9:34
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If you want a line graph with 2 y-axes. You to insert->Chart-> 2-Axis. Put in your data. One of the sets will be a line the others a bar. The way to fix that is: Select the one that is a bar then to go to the Inspector-> Chart-> Series. It will say series type-> select that and change it from bar to line. Right below that it says plot on: There you can determine if you want that line to be plotted on y(1) or y(2).

What it looks like at first for 2-axis

  • "2D 2-Axis" is the chart type in Numbers 3.2. – Nick Hawes Jun 28 '14 at 9:33
  • Yes, a welcome improvement in Number 3 from Numbers 2! – Ian C. Jun 28 '14 at 16:42
  • Alas, it's not an x-y plot but a categorical chart. So if you have many or unevenly spaced x values, it will look wrong. – Heath Raftery 2 days ago
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Yes Numbers does now supports two axes. Steps are:

  1. Select the chart, change the type to 2D 2-Axis
  2. Make sure you have more than one data series selected.
  3. The Series tab for each data series will allow you select which axis to use for each series and the type: columns, lines or areas.
  4. The chart Axis tab contains (Y1) and (Y2) tabs which you can customise.

If you are familiar with customising graphs in Numbers - it isn't complicated.

  • Thank you! This chart took me forever to find. I thought I was crazy until I read and re-read the list of chart types that I could create from the drop down menu. The picture charts all seem to be single axis. – Paul Solt Aug 29 '17 at 13:47
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Unfortunately, Numbers' only solution is the 2D 2-axis graph which has categorical x-axis values. If you want to retain a numerical x-axis, the best way I've found is actually to lay two graphs over the top of each other.

Step 1

Create two separate graphs of the same size and the same x-axis extents. Style them as you wish, but only add grid lines, axis lines and x-axis labels to one of them.

two separate graphs

Step 2

This is the worst bit. Because the y-axis cannot be moved, use control-command-shift-4 to copy a screenshot of the secondary y-axis to the clipboard. Paste with command-v. Make sure the "Zoom" level in Numbers is set to 100%, otherwise the pasted image will need to be resized.

Step 3

Turn off the axis labels on the secondary y-axis, then lay the graphs over the top of each other, using the alignment guides that pop up to align the axes. Position the copy of the secondary y-axis labels. Voilà

combined graph

-1

Was able to do the same thing in Numbers 2009 (v2.1), but had to fiddle a lot. Use the 2-axis format. The program resists you all the way.

Here is a 2-axis graph (climate diagram) created using Numbers 2.1:

  • 1
    Could you perhaps expand your answer with specific instructions as to how the graph in the screenshot was created? – grg May 14 '15 at 19:26

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