How To Make A Pie Chart In Excel.
In Just 2 Minutes!

Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.

The pie chart is one of the most commonly used charts in Excel. Why?

Because it’s so useful 🙂

Pie charts can show a lot of information in a small amount of space. They primarily show how different values add up to a whole.

That might not sound like much, but we’ll look at how pie charts can be great visual aids.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Let’s take a look at why pie charts are so useful, then dive into making them!

Free video on pie charts

Watch my video and learn how to create and modify a pie chart so it looks professional!

Prefer text over video? Then continue below!

Why use a pie chart?

If you’re here, you’re probably already convinced that a pie chart is the best way to present your data. If not, though, here are a few reasons you should consider it:

1. It can show a lot of information at once.

Many charts specialize in showing one thing, like the value of a category. Pie charts are great for showing both a value and a proportion for each category.

That makes for a more efficient chart.

2. It allows for immediate analysis.

The way in which data is presented by a pie chart makes it very easy to make comparisons quickly. That allows viewers to analyze the data in a snap.

And that’s what you’re using a chart for in the first place, isn’t it?

3. It requires little additional explanation.

Some graphs and charts include complicated information and aren’t intuitively clear. A box plot, for example, might leave audiences scratching their heads.

But nearly everyone knows how to read a pie chart. That makes it easier for you to present and for them to interpret.

4. Variations give you more options.

There are many different kinds of pie charts, and they each have distinct visual advantages. We’ll only be going over the basic chart here, but keep this in mind.

If you want to present your pie chart in a different format, there’s probably a way to do it!

Convinced? Let’s dive into making pie charts!

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Keep in mind, however, that a pie chart isn’t always the best way to go. For example, if you have multiple values per category, a clustered column or bar chart will better serve your purposes.

And if you want to show change over time, a line chart is probably your best bet.

Get your FREE exercise file

If you’d like to practice creating a pie chart, download the free example workbook.

You can follow along with the rest of the article by using the same data we do!


BONUS: Download the Pie Chart Exercise Workbook File to go along with this post.

Formatting data for pie charts

Getting your data ready for a pie chart is simple.

Just make sure that your categories and associated values are each on separate lines:


In this example, we’ll use the number of units sold for a range of products.

We’ve put each category and value on a row, but you can also separate them into columns. Excel can interpret both formats.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

That’s all there is to it. Now you’re ready to create a pie chart!

How to make a pie chart

Once your data is formatted, making a pie chart only takes a couple clicks.

First, highlight the data you want in the chart:


Then click to the Insert tab on the Ribbon. In the Charts group, click Insert Pie or Doughnut Chart:


If you forget which button is which, hover over each one, and Excel will tell you which type of chart it is.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

In the resulting menu, click 2D Pie:


Once you’ve clicked that, your pie chart will appear!


Editing pie charts

When you first create a pie chart, Excel will use the default colors and design.

But if you want to customize your chart to your own liking, you have plenty of options.

The easiest way to get an entirely new look is with chart styles.

In the Design portion of the Ribbon, you’ll see a number of different styles displayed in a row. Mouse over them to see a preview:


There are lots of great options here, but we’ll go over some of the basics of customizing your chart, too.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

One of the ways you can customize your chart is by picking a new color scheme. Use the Change Colors dropdown to select a new one:


To change the colors and styles of individual elements, head to the Format tab in the Chart Tools section of the Ribbon:


Click on an element in the chart and use the tools in the menu to change the styles.

You can also change the layout with the Quick Layout menu. The presets in this menu have elements like percentage labels, value labels, and differently located legends:


You can also add and remove individual elements with the Add Chart Element menu.

Although it’s called the Add Chart Element menu, you can also remove elements from this menu. Just deselect them to make them disappear.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

You might notice that there aren’t as many elements in this menu when you use a pie chart.

That’s because pie charts are already so efficient! Most of the data your audience needs is right in front of them, and you don’t need to add anything.

If you selected the wrong data for your pie chart, or you added new data to your spreadsheet, you can adjust the selection with the Select Data dialog, accessed from the Ribbon:


You can type in the Chart data range box or simply click-and-drag to identify the new selection.

This window also lets you switch the rows and columns of your data, but it’s easier to do this with the Switch Row/Column button in the Ribbon:


You can also use the Move Chart button to move your chart to a new or existing sheet (which is useful, because you probably don’t want your chart sitting right on top of your data).


A sweet chart indeed

The pie chart is commonly used, and for good reason. It’s one of the best Excel charts you can use.

It presents data efficiently, shows both values and proportions, and is very easy to read. On top of that, it’s easy to make.

If you haven’t started using pie charts yet, why not? Start today!

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto