See how to make an Excel pie chart, with step-by-step videos and written instructions. A pie chart is a circle, with one or more slices, and each slice is sized to show its share of the overall total amount.
A pie chart is a circle with one or more slices, and each slice is sized to show its share of the overall total amount. You can even get fancy, and add pictures to the pie chart slices.
Watch these 2 videos to see:
A pie chart is a circle with one or more slices, and each slice is sized to show its share of the overall total amount. Here are the steps for setting up the data, and creating a pie chart.
Then, make a few changes to the chart setup, so it's easy to read and understand.
What should your data look like, if you want to build a pie chart? It should have the following:
Warning – Only use a few numbers, or the pie chart won’t be readable. I’d pick 6 as the upper limit, but let your conscience (or your boss) be your guide.
In the screen shot below, you can see two sets of data showing sales per region.
We could create a pie chart from either set of numbers.
After your data is set up, follow these steps to insert a pie chart:
A pie chart will be inserted on the active sheet, in the middle of the Excel window.
The chart will show the heading from the number column as a chart title, and a legend with the text descriptions, if your data includes those.
After you build a pie chart, make changes to the chart, if needed.
The new chart is selected, so you can move it to a different location, if you don’t want it in the middle of the sheet.
When the chart is selected, you can also resize it, to make it larger or smaller.
You can resize the chart again later, after making all the formatting changes.
By default, the chart has a legend at the side, that shows the text description for each slice of the pie. To make it easier to read, you should put a label on each slice, and get rid of the legend. That way, people won’t have to look back and forth, from the legend to the pie, trying to match the colours.
To add labels, right-click on any slice in the pie, then click Add Data Labels, in the popup menu.
Each slice will show its numeric value. You’ll make those labels look better in a minute.
Now that the pie slices have labels, we don’t need the legend at the right.
To delete the legend, right-click on the legend, then click Delete.
The data labels currently show just the value for each slice, in a small, dark font. We’ll change the information that shows, and make the labels easier to read.
Right-click on any label, and click Format Data Labels
Now that the data labels show the content you want, format them, so they’re easier to read.
If you have the option of choosing a different chart type, consider making a Bar chart or Column chart, instead of a pie chart.
These charts make it easier to compare the values, as you can see below.
While flipping through a magazine on the weekend, I saw this pizza pie chart. Yes, the pizza looks delicious, but the toppings are split down the middle. That makes the vote appear to be 50-50, not 58-42. Fun idea, but bad pizza pie chart!
The picture was making me hungry. I didn’t want to ruin my dinner, by going out for a pizza snack, so I decided to make a better pizza pie chart in Excel.
First, I entered the results on a worksheet (I was using Excel 2013).
Since there were only two items in my list, the recommended chart type was Pie. The second suggestion was a column chart, and third was a bar chart.
The default pie chart had slices in the correct size, so it showed the results better than the original pizza pie chart. But it needed some formatting, to make it look better. If nothing else, it needed a title, and those colours had to be changed to red and white!
I rarely use picture backgrounds on a chart, but this seemed like a good time to make an exception.
That looks better!
Here is the finished version of the chart. Now, it’s easy to see which topping most people prefer. And if that made you hungry, I’m sorry!
Simple Pie Chart -- Download this sample Pie Chart workbook with the data to create a simple pie chart. The zipped file is in xlsx format, and does not contain macros.
Last updated: October 7, 2020 4:23 PM