The x-axis and y-axis are shown by default in all charts but the pie chart. Here is a quick overview of the axis elements:


Axis labels, tickmarks and gridlines#

The axis labels, tickmarks and gridlines are closely linked and all scale together. Their positioning is calculated to best fit the data present in a chart. 


Tick marks are the lines placed along an axis to show the units of measurement. The spacing between ticks are mainly decided by the tickInterval and tickPixelInterval options. Labels and grid lines are laid out on the same positions as the tick marks. 

The tickInterval option decides the interval of the tick marks in axis units. The tick interval defaults to null, which means it is computed to approximately follow the tickPixelInterval on linear and datetime axes.

On categorized axes, a null tickInterval will default to 1, one category.

Note that datetime axes are based on milliseconds, so for example an interval of one day is expressed as 24 3600 1000. 

On logarithmic axes, the tickInterval is based on powers, so a tickInterval of 1 means one tick on each of 0.1, 1, 10, 100 etc. A tickInterval of 2 means a tick of 0.1, 10, 1000 etc. A tickInterval of 0.2 puts a tick on 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 20, 40 etc.

The "tickPixelInterval" sets an approximate pixel interval of the tick marks based on a pixel value (if "tickInterval" is null). It doesn't apply to categorized axis. Defaults to 72 for the y-axis and 100 for the x-axis.

Minor ticks#

If the minorTickInterval option is set, minor ticks are laid out between the major ones. This includes minor tick marks, and minor grid lines, which have their own options for look and feel, but excludes labels. 


The axis labels can be found along the axis showing the value of the data it corresponds to. Labels can also be customized using a formatter function:

yAxis: {
labels: {
formatter: function() {
return this.value + ' %';

The above example takes the value of the y-axis label and adds a % symbol at the end of it.

Grid lines#

Grid lines are collections of horizontal (and/or vertical) lines that divide a chart into a grid, making it easier to read values of the chart. 

To enable or disable gridlines for either the x or y-axis, set the gridLineWidth of the respective axis:

xAxis: {
gridLineWidth: 1
yAxis: {
gridLineWidth: 1

Grid lines for the y-axis are enabled by default (gridLineWidth: 1), and disabled by default for the x-axis  (gridLineWidth: 0).

Other options for grid lines can be found in the API reference for the x and y-axis.

Minor grid lines are intermediary lines that can be enabled by setting the minorTickInterval option.

Multiple axes#

It is possible to have multiple axes and linking them with different data series. To do this several axes needs to be created, like this:

yAxis: [{ //--- Primary yAxis
title: {
text: 'Temperature'
}, { //--- Secondary yAxis
title: {
text: 'Rainfall'
opposite: true
series: [{
yAxis: 0,
data: [49.9, 71.5, 106.4, 129.2, 144.0, 176.0, 135.6, 148.5, 216.4, 194.1, 95.6, 54.4]
yAxis: 1,
data: [7.0, 6.9, 9.5, 14.5, 18.2, 21.5, 25.2, 26.5, 23.3, 18.3, 13.9, 9.6]

Note that several axes are created using a list, so the first yAxis starts with index 0. And the "opposite: true" option puts the axis on the right side of the chart.

Axis title #

The axis title, showing next to the axis line. This title by default for the y-axis and hidden by default for the x-axis. See xAxis.title for the full set of options.

Axis types#

An axis can be either, linear, logarithmic, datetime or categories. The axis type is set like this:

// The types are 'linear', 'logarithmic' and 'datetime'
yAxis: {
type: 'linear',
// Categories are set by using an array
xAxis: {
categories: ['Apples', 'Bananas', 'Oranges']


The numbers along the axis are of linear scale. This is the default axis type. If only y-values are present in a dataseries the x-axis is labeled from 0 to the number of y-values (shows the array index of the y-values):

var chart = new Highcharts.Chart({
chart: {
renderTo: 'container',
type: 'column'
title: {
text: 'Fruit Consumption'
xAxis: {
title: {
text: 'Fruit Number'
tickInterval: 1
yAxis: {
title: {
text: 'Fruit eaten'
tickInterval: 1
series: [{
name: 'Jane',
data: [1, 0, 4]
}, {
name: 'John',
data: [5, 7, 3]



On a logarithmic axis the numbers along the axis increase logarithmically and the axis adjusts itself to the data series present in the chart.

Note that on logarithmic axes, the tickInterval option is based on powers, so a tickInterval of 1 means one tick on each of 0.1, 1, 10, 100 etc. A tickInterval of 2 means a tick of 0.1, 10, 1000 etc. A tickInterval of 0.2 puts a tick on 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 20, 40 etc.

Another thing to note is that a logarithmic axis can never become negative, as each full axis unit is one tenth of the previous. As a consequence, Highcharts will remove 0 or negative points associated to the axis, and if you try to set the axis.min option to 0 or negative, it will fail with an error.


A datetime axis prints labels of round date values in appropriate intervals. Internally, a datetime axis is a linear numeric axis based on milliseconds since midnight Jan 1, 1970, as specified by the JavaScript Date object. Depending on the scale the datetime label will either be represented as time or a date.

Some useful functions are:

// Get time in millis for UTC
// Get time in millis for your local time
Date.parse("Month day, year");
// Built in Highcharts date formatter based on the [PHP strftime]( (see [API reference]( for usage)
Highcharts.dateFormat("Month: %m Day: %d Year: %Y", 20, false);

Note that Unix based server timestamps are represented as seconds not milliseconds. This is useful to know since PHP time is based on a Unix timestamp, so to use it with Highcharts the value only needs to be multiplied by 1000.

In Highcharts Stock the x-axis is always a datetime axis.


If categories are present, the names of the categories are used instead of numbers or dates on the axis. See xAxis.categories.

What axis type should I use?#

Many of the examples on the Highcharts demo page come with an xAxis with categories. However, it is important to understand when to use categories and when you are better off with a linear or datetime xAxis.

Categories are groups of items, like for example "Apples", "Pears" and "Oranges", or "Red", "Green", "Blue", "Yellow". These categories have that in common that there are no intermediate values. There's no sliding transition between apples and pears. Also, if you leave one category out, the user isn't able to understand what is left out. Say if you print every second color of "Red", "Green", "Blue" or "Yellow", the user won't know what colors are missing. Therefore, Highcharts doesn't have automatic methods to hide categories if they become to dense on the axis. If you have problems with overlapping axis labels, try either the xAxis.labels.staggerLines option, or give the labels a rotation. If you find that you can skip category labels by the xAxis.labels.step option, chances are that you are better off using a linear or datetime axis.

An xAxis of the linear or datetime type has the advantage that Highcharts is able to determine how close the data labels should be because it knows how to interpolate. The labels will by default be placed with approximately 100px between them, which can be changed in the tickPixelInterval option. If you have predictable categories like "Item1", "Item2", "Item3" or "2012-01-01", "2012-01-02", "2012-01-03" etc., linear or datetime axis types combined with an xAxis.labels.formatter would probably be a better choice.

Dynamically updating axes#

Axes can be updated with new information after render time. For more information about this look in the API.