Download the free workbook 👉 HERE and follow along.

What is a Pie Chart?

A pie chart is a circular graph divided into slices. Each slice shows a category’s share of the total. Use pie charts to show parts of a whole, especially when you have 5-7 categories.

Here’s an Excel pie chart example:

pie chart excel

When to Use a Pie Chart

  • Best For: Showing proportion of parts to a whole for a small number of categories.
  • Not Ideal For: Many categories with similar data values.

For an alternative to the pie chart check out this article. You’ll use a sorted bar chart which offers multiple advantages.

Different Types of Pie Charts in Excel

pie chart excel types
  • 2-D Pie Chart: A flat, circular chart.
  • Pie of Pie: Breaks out smaller slices into another pie.
  • Bar of Pie: Shows smaller slices as a bar chart.
  • 3-D Pie Chart: Adds depth to the chart.
  • Doughnut Chart: A pie chart with a blank center.

How to Create a Pie Chart in Excel

Step 1: Select Your Data

Ensure Data is Properly Organized:

Your data should be in a simple table format. The first column will contain the categories, and the second column will have the corresponding values. For example:

Choose Your Data:

  • Click any cell within your data range to select the whole range automatically.
  • Or, to plot only a specific section, highlight that range and include the column headers.

Step 2: Insert Pie Chart

  • Go to the “Insert” tab.
  • In the Charts group, click on the Pie Chart icon.
  • Choose your preferred pie chart type. For this example, we’re using a 2-D pie chart.
insert pie chart

Your pie chart is now ready. But you can customize it to make it more captivating with some simple tweaks.

Featured Course

Business Charts in Excel

Create Business charts that grab attention AND auto-update. Wow your coworkers and managers with smart time-saving techniques.
Learn More

How to Customize and Format Pie Charts

Default charts in Excel can be greatly improved with various additional components. Here’s how to customize and format your pie chart:

Add a Chart Title

  • If there is no existing title, click the “+” icon next to the chart and check the box for “Chart Title.”
add title to pie chart
  • Click on the chart title area.
  • Type your new title or edit the existing one.

Add Data Labels

Adding data labels can help make your chart easier to understand by clearly showing the value of each slice. There are different placement and style options for data labels.

Data Label Options:

  • Center: Places the label in the middle of the slice.
  • Inside End: Places the label at the inside end of the slice.
  • Outside End: Places the label outside the slice.
  • Best Fit: Automatically positions the label for the best fit.
  • Data Callout: Uses callouts to show the labels, with lines pointing to the slices.
different label options

How to add Data Labels to Pie Charts:

  • Click on the chart to select it.
  • Click the + button that appears next to the chart.
  • Check the Data Labels box to add labels to each slice.
  • Click the arrow next to Data Labels to select the desired label option (e.g., Center, Inside End, Outside End, Best Fit, Data Callout).

Adjust Label Options:

Formatting data labels can help improve the readability and appearance of your chart.

  1. Label Contains Options: Customize what information is displayed on the labels.
    • Right-click on any data label and select Format Data Labels.
    • In the Label Options pane, you can choose to add percentages, category name, or a combination.
  2. Separator for Text: When displaying multiple pieces of information, you can choose how to separate them. In the “Format Data Labels” pane, look for the “Separator” option. You can select from options like Comma, Space, or New Line.
Label options pie chart

Formatting Label Text, Fill and Border:

  1. Text Formatting: Change the font size, font color, and style (bold, italic) of the data labels.
    • Click on any data label to select it.
    • Use the options in the formatting toolbar to change the font size, font color, or make the text bold, italic, etc.
  2. Fill: Change the background color of the data labels.
    • In the Format Data Labels pane, go to the Fill & Line section.
    • Select Fill and choose from Solid fill or Gradient fill.
  3. Border: Add or customize the border around the data labels.
    • In the Format Data Labels pane, go to the Border section.
    • Choose the border style, color, and width.

Number Formatting for Numeric Label Values:

Number formatting ensures that numerical values are easy to read and consistent with the rest of your data.

  1. Numeric Formatting: Customize the format of the numbers in the data labels.
    • Right-click on any data label and select Format Data Labels.
    • In the Number section, choose the category (e.g., Number, Currency, Percentage).
  2. Linked to Source: Ensure the data labels reflect the source data format.
    • In the Number section, check the Linked to Source option.

Change Colors

Changing the colors of your pie chart can help tell categories apart. It can also make your chart look better.

Change the Overall Color Palette:

  • With the chart selected, go to the Chart Design tab.
  • Click Change Colors to choose a different color palette.
  • Hover over different palettes to see a preview. Then click to apply your chosen colors.

Change Colors for Individual Slices:

Instead of changing the color theme for all slices, you can also change specific individual slices.

  • Click on the chart to select it.
  • Click on the specific slice you want to change.
  • Right-click on the selected slice and choose Format Data Point.
  • In the Format Data Point pane, go to the Fill section.
  • Select Solid fill or Gradient fill and choose your desired color.

Adjust Layout

Adjusting the layout can help you find the best presentation for your data, making it more informative and easier to read.

  • With the chart selected, go to the Chart Design tab.
  • Click Quick Layout in the Chart Layouts group.
  • Choose a predefined layout that best fits your data presentation needs.
pie chart quick layout

Chart Legend

Pie chart legends help identify the different categories in your chart. They show which slice corresponds to which data point, making your chart easier to understand.

When to Use or Delete a Legend

  • Use a Legend: If your pie chart has many slices or similar colors, legends help viewers. They let them quickly identify each category.
  • Delete a Legend: If your chart has few slices or each slice is labeled. Removing the legend can cut clutter and make your chart look cleaner. To delete the legend, click it and press Delete.

Re-Adding the Legend:

  • Click the + icon next to the chart.
  • Check the Legend box.
  • Choose the placement (Top, Bottom, Left, Right).

Featured Course

Visually Effective Excel Dashboards

Create eye-catching Excel Dashboards with actionable tips you can use right away.
Learn More
Excel dashboards course cover

Advanced Pie Chart Options

Pie of Pie and Bar of Pie Charts

Pie of Pie and Bar of Pie charts make small slices easier to see and compare. Use these charts when your pie chart has too many small slices. They put smaller slices into a second pie or bar chart. This makes it easier to read and highlights key data.

How to Create a Pie of Pie Chart

  • Go to the “Insert” tab.
  • In the Charts group, click on the Pie Chart icon.
  • Choose the Pie to Pie chart type.
pie of pie chart

💡 Notes:

  • The left chart is always the main chart, and the secondary chart is always to its right. You can’t rearrange them.
  • Connector lines will add automatically. You can remove them or change the connector styles. To change them, click on the connector lines and use the Format Series Lines pane to adjust their appearance (color, transparency, width, etc.).

Formatting and Customizing a Pie of Pie Chart

If you don’t indicate how many data points should appear in the secondary pie, the chart will automatically include the three smallest. But you can adjust this:

  1. Right-Click on the Pie Chart: Choose Format Data Series from the context menu.
  2. Adjust the Split: In the Format Data Series pane, you can decide how to split the data between the main pie and the secondary pie. Options include:
    • By Value: Set a threshold value.
    • By Percent Value: Set a percentage threshold.
    • By Position: Move a set number of smallest slices to the secondary pie.
    • Custom: Manually select which slices go into the secondary pie.
  3. Adjust the colors for the pies and format the labels.

By following these steps, you can customize your chart to effectively highlight key data points and improve its visual appeal.

pie of pie chart

How to Create a Bar of Pie Chart

The Bar of Pie chart is much like the Pie of Pie chart. But, it uses a bar chart to show the smaller values.

bar of pie chart

The formatting options for the Bar of Pie chart are identical to those for the Pie of Pie chart. You can adjust the data split, format data labels, and change the appearance of the connector lines in the same manner.

How to Rotate a Pie Chart in Excel

Rotating the slices of a pie chart can provide a fresh perspective and help highlight specific categories. This simple adjustment can make your chart more effective and easier to understand. Here’s how:

  • Right-Click on Any Slice: This opens a context menu.
  • Select Format Data Series: Choose Format Data Series from the menu.
  • Adjust the Angle of First Slice: In the Format Data Series pane, adjust the Angle of First Slice to rotate the slices.
rotate pie chart

Why Rotate Slices?

Rotating slices can help you position the most important data prominently. For example, you might want “Samsung” (21%) to appear at the top to emphasize its market share compared to other brands.

How to Explode a Pie Chart in Excel

Exploding a pie chart or pulling out individual slices can help emphasize specific data points. This makes your chart more visually appealing and easier to understand.

Exploding the Entire Pie Chart

To highlight all values, you can explode the entire pie chart by moving all slices away from the center.

Quick Method:

  • Click in the chart area (not on the actual pie chart).
  • Click any slice and drag it away from the center using your mouse.

For More Control:

  • Right-Click Any Slice and select Format Data Series.
  • Adjust the Explosion: In the Format Data Series pane, use the Pie Explosion slider or type the desired percentage.
explode pie chart

Pulling Out a Single Slice

To emphasize a particular value, you can pull out a single slice from the pie chart.

Quick Method:

  • Click once on the pie chart to select it.
  • Click again on the slice you want to emphasize. Then drag it away from the center.

For More Precision:

  • Click once to select the pie chart, and again to select the single slice.
  • Right-Click the slice and select Format Data Point.
  • Set the desired percentage for the Point Explosion.

Donut Chart in Excel

A donut chart is a variation of a pie chart, but with a hole in the middle, making it look like a donut. It can display multiple data series, making it versatile and visually appealing.

When to Use a Doughnut Chart

  • Multiple Data Series: Donut charts can effectively display more than one data series, providing a layered view.
  • Space for Labels: The center hole allows for additional labels or text, making the chart less cluttered.
  • Comparison: Useful for comparing parts of multiple data series or highlighting a central part of your data.

How to Make a Donut Chart in Excel

Insert a Donut Chart

  • Select Your Data: Highlight the data range you want to use.
  • Go to the Insert Tab: Navigate to the Insert tab on the Excel ribbon.
  • Insert Donut Chart: In the Charts group, click on the Pie Chart icon. From the dropdown menu, choose Doughnut.
donut chart in excel

Customize Your Donut Chart

Add Data Labels:

  • Click on the chart to select it.
  • Click the + button next to the chart and check Data Labels.
  • For more options, right-click the data labels and select Format Data Labels. Choose Data Callout for more detailed labels.

💡 You can also move data labels separately for more control

Adjust Donut Hole Size:

Right-click on the chart and select Format Data Series.

  • In the Format Data Series pane, adjust the Donut Hole Size slider to increase or decrease the size of the hole.

💡 Reducing the donut hole can make it easier to read labels.

donut chart with multiple series

Pie Chart vs. Donut Chart

  • Pie Chart: Best for showing a single data series and when you want to emphasize individual parts of a whole.
  • Donut Chart: Ideal for comparing multiple data series. The center hole allows for additional labels or text, making the chart less cluttered.

Best Practices for Pie Charts

  • Limit slices: Use maximum 5-7 slices for clarity.
  • Use contrasting colors: Differentiate each slice for better readability.
  • Label clearly: Ensure each slice is labeled with its category and value.

Download the Workbook

Enhance your learning experience by downloading our chart template. Practice the techniques discussed in real-time and master pie charts in Excel with hands-on examples. Download the workbook here and start applying what you’ve learned directly in Excel.

Featured Course

Black Belt Excel Package

What would your life look like if you became an Excel Black Belt? You’ll get the best deal with this (cost savings) package. It will take you from Excel Newbie to Grand Master.
Learn More
Excel Black Belt course cover

Leila Gharani

I'm a 6x Microsoft MVP with over 15 years of experience implementing and professionals on Management Information Systems of different sizes and nature.

My background is Masters in Economics, Economist, Consultant, Oracle HFM Accounting Systems Expert, SAP BW Project Manager. My passion is teaching, experimenting and sharing. I am also addicted to learning and enjoy taking online courses on a variety of topics.