Creating a Pie Chart in Excel

Creating a Pie Chart in Excel

October 6, 2019 5 By Ewald Bahringer


A pie chart shows how different categories make up a whole. For example, you could survey students about their favorite animal, and make a pie graph of the results. Out of the students in this survey, you can see that more than half prefer horses, and about a third prefer dolphins. The remaining students had a lot of different favorite animals. Pie charts are best when you’d like to emphasize one especially big value or one especially small value. This chart would be great for showing that a lot of students like horses, or for calling out that my hypothesis was wrong, if I thought that most students would prefer dogs. It’s important to know that pie charts are not always the right answer for making comparisons. If your numbers are closer together, like 25%, 30%, and 40%, it’s hard to tell from a pie chart which values are bigger. A column chart is usually a better option, since it’s easier to compare similar values, and it’s easier to read when you have lots of categories. If you do want to make a pie chart, you’ll label 2 columns: the first is the kind of categories you have, and the second is what you measured in those categories.
Next, you’ll fill in the categories in the first column, and their values in the second column. Once your data is in the spreadsheet, you are ready to make the pie chart! This is easy. You select your data. Then all you have to do is go to the Insert tab, find the pie chart option, and choose pie. Now you’re going to update your title. You want it to be descriptive enough that if someone found your chart without any explanation, they’d know what they were looking at. If you’ve already created a chart and you want to add another slice to your pie, the easiest way to do that is to type the missing category and number at the bottom of your dataset. Remember that if you’re using percentages, they need to add up to 100%, so be sure your data is still accurate after you add a new value. Then, you can select the chart; that will highlight the data it’s using. Find the lower-right corner of the highlighted area, and drag it to include your new data.
You can change your chart type at any time, if you decide a column chart would be better than a pie chart for your data, especially as you start adding more categories. Select the chart, then go to Design, Change Chart Type. Then you’ll find Column on the side menu. You can preview other chart options to experiment with as well.
Now your chart has all the information it needs–everything else I’ll show you is styling. You can style the chart with different colors and designs by selecting the chart, go to Design, and pick from a good selection of pre-set styles. Now you can do more customization on top of the styling. You can add labels by right-clicking the chart and choosing add data callouts. On the label options section, you can change the separator to a space so it doesn’t take up as much vertical room. You may want to emphasize one slice of the pie chart more than the others. If so, you can select the slice, and the side bar will say “Format Data Point”. Then under series options, you can increase the point explosion to pull it
out from the rest of the pie. On the fill and line bucket menu, you can change the colors of the whole pie, and you can change one slice at a time. So that’s how to create a pie chart!
If you want a head start on creating your own chart, you can look in the description for a link to download this file. Check out our video for making a Pie Chart in Google Sheets. Subscribe to our channel for more charts and how-to videos in Google Sheets and Excel.