# How to Create a Pie Chart in MS Excel

A pie chart illustrates the distribution of your data in the form of a slice in a circle. Each slice represents a percentage of the whole. It means the data in the chart will always add up to 100%. Pie charts use one data series, and display the contribution of each value to a total.

## When to Use a Pie Chart in Microsoft Excel

• When the data comprises distinctive parts
• To compare categories
• To represent percentages at a set point in time
• To show how 100% divided up into a few shares

You cannot plot a pie chart with continuous data. For example, you cannot plot a pie chart for age, height, and body weight.

In this pie chart tutorial, you will learn how to make a pie chart in Microsoft Excel. You will also learn to customize the chart, explode or rotate a pie chart, and much more.

So let us get started.

## How to Create a Pie Chart in MS Excel

Follow these straightforward steps to create a default two dimensional pie chart.

### Step #1: Open Microsoft Excel

Open an existing spreadsheet or create a new sheet.

Enter the data as shown in the following illustration.

The above regional sales data will be our source data for the tutorial.

For pie charts, you must organize the data in one column or row. You can plot only one data series in a pie chart. The description column or row with category names should be the first column or row in the selection. The data should be in the next column.

### Step #2: Select data to plot the chart

Select the data by clicking with your mouse on A1. Hold the mouse button down, drag your cursor to B1 and then to the bottom of the column (Cell range A1:B5). Release the mouse button.

Or

Click with your mouse on A1 and press CTRL+A to select the cell range A1:B5.

### Step #3: Select the pie chart type to plot

Click the Insert tab on the main menu bar.

On the Insert ribbon, navigate to the Charts group.

Click the Insert Pie or Doughnut Charts icon to display the graph options.

Tip: Hover with your mouse over the icons to see their names.

In this tutorial, we will insert the standard 2-D Pie chart.

Under 2-D Pie, select the first chart option.

The pie chart shows that the East region generated the most sales, and the North region generated the least.

## Customizing the Pie Chart

You can use this default pie chart as is, or customize the chart for a professional look and presentation.

### Step #1: Add data labels

If your pie chart has three or more slices, it is good to add data labels for ease of interpretation. It also prevents toggling between the data source and the pie chart to check each slice.

To add data labels, click on the chart to select it and click the green plus icon on the right of the chart.

From the options that appear, click on the check box against Data Labels.

Click the arrow to the right of the Data Labels option.

From the context menu, select Best Fit.

After adding the labels, it is easier to identify the percentage of each slice.

Note: The pie chart displays data in a clockwise direction.

Or

Click on the chart to select it.

In the main menu, click on Chart Design.

Click on Add Chart Element in the Charts Layout group on the ribbon.

Hover with your mouse on the word Data Labels for more options to appear.

Select Best Fit.

### Step #2: Highlight data labels

To highlight the data labels, you can change the font color of the labels. You can add options available under Label Options and Text Options

Click any data label to select all the labels at once.

Right-click on the selected labels, and from the pop-up menu, select Format Data Labels.

In the Format Data Labels pane, under Text Fill, select Solid fill.

Against Color, click on the paint bucket icon.

From the Theme Colors palette, select white.

Under Label Options, select Category Name.

Select a separator from the dropdown box for the data label. Our example uses the default separator comma (,).

Or

Click on the chart to select it.

In the main menu, click on Chart Design.

Navigate to the Quick Layout option.

Click on the dropdown arrow.

Select Layout 1 or 4 as both include data labels and categories.

Without the labels, it would be difficult to guess the exact percentage of each slice. The above pie chart is easier to interpret as each slice is showing the data label and the data category.

After adding the data labels, you can remove the legends or keep them.

### Step #3: Change slice color to emphasize data

You can draw attention to a specific slice or data by changing the color.

Select the pie chart and right-click on it.

Click the Fill dropdown and choose a theme color.

The pie chart color is replaced with the color selected as illustrated below.

Click the slice to highlight, and click again to select it.

Right-click, click the Fill dropdown, and choose a different color for the specific slice as illustrated in the above pie chart.

In this example, the idea was to draw attention to the region with the least sales.

You can use this method to make certain sections stand out.

### Step #4: Interpret source data and data labels display

If the source data for your pie chart is in percentages, Excel adds the percentage symbol % on the data labels. So when you add data labels to the chart, it shows in percentage. Excel calculates the percentage with the pie representing 100%. If your source data are numbers, you can choose to display the number or percentage, or both.

This section will use a different source data to show the display of numbers and percentages.

The above data displays four different products, and the number of each product sold.

After plotting the pie chart for the above source data, click one data label to select all the data labels.

Right-click to display the Format Data Labels pane.

Under Label Options, select Value to display only numbers.

Or

Select Percentage to display only the percentage.

Or

Select Value and Percentage to display both.

Depending on your needs, you can choose to change the Label Position. In this example, the label position is set to Inside End.

The Separator is changed to New Line.

All the above settings are illustrated in the pie chart below.

## Exploding the Pie Chart

To emphasize a slice in the pie chart, you can ‘explode’ it. To do that, you move the slice away from the center of the pie. You can select one or more slices to emphasize. If you do not select a slice and apply the explode option, Excel explodes all the slices of the pie chart.

### Step #1: Select the pie chart

Click anywhere in the chart plot area to select the entire pie chart.

Double click the pie for individual slices to be selected.

### Step #2: Drag a slice from the pie chart

Press the left mouse and drag one of the slices away from the center of the pie chart.

When you select the entire chart, all the slices move away from the center of the pie chart.

In the above pie chart, all the slices have moved away from the center.

Or

Select Format Data Series from the context menu.

On the Format Data Series pane, select Series Options.

Drag the Pie Explosion slider to the right to increase the gap between the slices. Drag the slider to the left to decrease the gap between the slices.

Or

Type the percentage (number) in the percentage box.

Or

Use the up and down arrow to choose a percentage.

### Step #3: Explode a single slice

You can highlight a specific slice from the pie chart by exploding it away from the center of the pie chart.

Click the slice to explode. Click again to select the slice.

Press your left mouse button and drag the slice away from the center of the chart as illustrated below.

In the above pie chart, the emphasis is on the product with the least number of sales.

Or

Click the slice to explode. Click again to select the slice.

Right-click and select Format Data Series from the context menu.

On the Format Data Series pane, select Series Options.

Drag the slider to the right to set the Point Explosion that you need.

Or

Type the percentage (number) to set the Point Explosion.

To explode more slices, repeat the process.

Note: You cannot select a group of slices to explode.

## Rotate the Pie Chart

If you need to change the arrangement of slices in a pie chart, you can rotate it. You can rotate your pie chart within 360 degrees of the circle. Rotating also helps avoid the overlapping of the labels and chart titles. It increases the empty area on each data label.

### Step #1: Rotate a pie chart

Right-click any slice on the pie chart.

From the pop-up menu, select Format Data Series.

Or

Double-click the pie chart to display the Format Data Series pane on the right.

### Step #2: Set rotation degree

On the Format Data Series pane, under Series Options, drag the slider to the right.

In the Angle of first slice option, select a suitable degree of rotation. For this example, the rotation degree is set to 90 degrees.

Or

Type the degree of rotation in the text box to set the Angle of first slice.

Or

Type the degree of rotation in the text box to set the Angle of first slice.

Note: Pie charts rotate clockwise.

When the degree of rotation is 0, the first wedge is at the 12 O’clock position. When at 180-degree rotation, the first wedge is at the 6 O’clock position as illustrated below.

Note: The default degree of rotation is 0.

## Replace Pie Chart with Doughnut Chart

If you find it difficult to interpret the pie chart, you can change the chart type to a Doughnut chart. It is a variation of the pie chart and many find it easier to understand.

### Step #1: Select the pie chart to replace

Click anywhere on the pie chart to select the entire chart.

### Step #2: Change chart type

Select Chart Designs from the main menu

On the Chart Designs ribbon, click Change Chart type

From the Change Chart Type dialog, select the last option, Doughnut.

Click the OK button to save the selection and exit the dialog.

MS Excel changes the pie chart to a doughnut chart.

The doughnut chart is another method of visualizing information. The same customizing options for the pie chart will apply to the doughnut chart as well.

## Replace Pie Chart with 3-D Pie Chart

For a stronger visual impact, you can change the chart type to Excel’s built-in 3-D pie chart.

### Step #1: Select the chart to change to 3-D Pie Chart

Click anywhere on the pie chart to select the entire chart.

Select the Chart Designs tab from the main menu.

On the Chart Designs ribbon, click Change Chart type

From the Change Chart Type dialog, select the second option 3-D Pie Chart.

Click the OK button to save the selection and exit the dialog.

### Step #2: Select the chart style

On the Chart Design ribbon, hover over the chart styles for a preview.

Select the one that meets your preferences.

In 3-D visualization, it is difficult to interpret the data distribution.

Without the data labels, it would be difficult to say which product (Desks, Desktops, and Laptops) generated better sales. All the slices look stretched. By changing the rotation, the 3-D pie chart may be easier to interpret.

### Step #3: Change the Y-rotation

Click anywhere on the chart to display the Format Chart Area pane.

Under 3-D Rotation change the Y Rotation degree and preview the chart. Play around with the other options. If it meets your needs, select it.

3-D visualization is impressive, but it is better to avoid. In 3-D charts, it is difficult to differentiate the larger and smaller slices of data.

## Replace Pie Chart with a Pie of Pie Chart

Pie charts are not effective when your source data has 7-8 categories. But Excel has a built-in chart type, the Pie of Pie Chart. Use this chart type when you need to add extra categories to your pie chart. Excel moves the smallest number of slices from your pie chart to another smaller pie chart.

For this example we will use the following dataset:

This dataset results in the following pie chart:

### Step #1: Select the chart to change to Pie of Pie Chart

Click anywhere on the pie chart to select the entire chart.

Select the Chart Designs tab from the main menu.

On the Chart Designs ribbon, click Change Chart type

From the Change Chart Type dialog box, select the third option Pie of Pie.

Click the OK button to save the selection and exit the dialog.

### Step #2: Select the chart style

On the Chart Design ribbon, hover over the chart styles for a preview.

Select the one that meets your preferences.

Excel replaces the 2-D pie chart with a Pie of Pie chart.

Excel picks up the data from the bottom rows and plots a separate chart. The Pie of Pie chart displays the connector lines. The first pie is the primary chart and to the right is the secondary chart.

The gray slice with 18% is the sum of the percentages of the three smaller slices on the right – 7%+6%+5%.

Note: The data that you want to appear in the secondary chart should be the bottom rows of the source data.

## Create a Pivot Table and Convert It to a Pie Chart

For a perfect pie chart, you need to have the perfect source data. You must sort the source data before you plot the chart. If you do not want to sort the source data, then you can rearrange the slices in your pie chart.

To re-arrange the slices, you must first create a PivotTable from your source data.

For this example, we will use the above source data.

### Step #1: Select the dataset

Press CTRL + A to select the source data range A1:B5.

Click the Insert tab in the main menu.

In the Charts group click the Pivot Chart dropdown arrow.

Select PivotChart and PivotTable from the options shown.

### Step #2: Create PivotTable

In the Create PivotTable dialog box, choose New Worksheet to create the PivotTable.

Click the OK button to save your selection and exit the dialog box.

### Step #3: Select fields to create PivotChart

To plot a PivotChart, choose the fields from the PivotChart Field pane.

Click the checkbox against Product and Sales fields to add them in the Categories and Values box.

Or you can drag Product and Sales fields to their corresponding boxes.

Excel builds the PivotTable and by default, plots a bar graph for Sum of Sales.

### Step #4: Change the default bar chart to pie chart

Right-click the bar chart.

From the popup menu select Change Chart Type.

In the Change Chart Type dialog box, select Pie on the left and select the first Pie chart option.

Click the OK button to plot the pie chart.

Click the Row Labels dropdown on the PivotTable to sort the data.

Or

Click the Product dropdown on the pie chart to sort the data.

Click on More Sort Options.

You can sort the data in Ascending or Descending order.

Or you can manually drag the rows to sort the data.

Click the OK button to save your sort options.

A Pie Chart is dynamic. It means you can view the changes to the chart when you sort the source data. Play around with the sort options and view the corresponding changes in the chart. It will help re-arrange the slices in the pie chart to match your needs.

## Conclusion

The tutorial covers the pie chart and its variants in detail. You can choose the best pie chart option that you can understand and interpret.

Pie charts are visually pleasing and work best to display data with a small number of categories (2-5). Avoid cluttering the pie chart with too many categories. The pie chart is easier to interpret when you sort the slices from largest to smallest.

If you do have many categories, consider converting it to a Pie of Pie chart, as explained above.