How to Make a Pie Chart in Excel: Step-By-Step Tutorial

A pie chart (also known as a circle chart) pictures the proportion of different items in a data set.

It is based on the idea of a pie, where each slice represents an individual item’s contribution to the total (the whole pie).

Unlike bar charts and line graphs, pie charts are easier to create. It comes in handy as compared to other charts because of its simplicity.

To learn how to create and modify pie charts in Excel, jump right into the guide below. And don’t forget to download the sample workbook here to tag along. 😎

How to create a pie chart

Creating a pie chart in Excel is super easy. For instance, take a look at the data below.

Pie chart data

The data shows the grades achieved by students on a test. We can represent this data graphically using a pie chart.

So here we go into making a pie chart out of it.

  1. Select all of the data you want to plot in the chart.
Selected data
  1. Go to the Insert Tab > Charts.
  2. Select the pie chart icon.
Select pie chart

A pie or doughnut chart is almost the same in terms of functionality. The only difference is that a pie chart seems like a pie 🥧 and a doughnut chart looks like a doughnut. 🍩

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist

You’ll see various chart styles in the resulting menu. But for now, we will go with a simple one.

  1. Select 2D Pie from the menu.
 Select a 2D basic chart

Once selected, it will display your 2D pie chart on the screen.

2D pie chart

There you have your excel pie chart.

How to modify a pie chart

When you create a pie chart for the first time, the one you will see on the screen will be of default design and colors.

To customize the chart to your liking, Excel has plenty of options that can help you do so.

Chart Style

The first and easiest thing you can do is change the chart style.

To do so, select the subject chart (you will see white circles on its corners and sides when selected).

After the chart is selected, two new tabs will appear on the ribbon.

The ‘Chart Design’ and the ‘Format’ tab.

The Design tab

Go to the Chart Design tab > Charts Styles.

A charts group will appear that shows different chart styles to give a new look to your chart. Scroll through them to see which one meets your liking.

Chart styles

We have applied a random chart style, and here’s what the chart looks like.

Applying a chart style

Chart Colors

To change your chart’s color, go to the change colors option on the left of the chart styles. 🌈

Pie chart color

This launches a menu of colors, and you can apply a variety of color palettes to your chart.

Here’s how it looks in tones of blue.

Changing pie chart colors

Data Labels

You can also add data labels to your chart.

Click anywhere on the chart area. You’ll see a plus sign (chart element) at the top-right corner of the chart area.

Click on it and check the box for Data labels.

Pie data labels

This adds data labels to each slice of the Pie Chart, as shown below.

Adding data labels to your pie chart

Pro Tip!

In the chart elements group, you will see an option to add legends.

This adds a quick color key to the chart that tells which color represents which slice. Add these to enhance the readability of your pie chart. 🎉

If you want more options for the data labels:

Right-click on the pie chart. From the context menu, click format data labels.

Format data labels option

This will open the format data labels pane for you. It holds a variety of options to edit the data labels of your pie chart.

For instance, do you want to show the data labels along with the percentage proportion?

Format data label options for individual pie slices

Chart Title

Every chart needs a title to tell the readers what’s coming their way. To add a title to your pie chart in Excel:

  1. Select the Chart.
  2. Click on the Plus sign that appears at the top right of the chart: The chart element option.
  3. Select the chart title.
Chart title pie
  1. Give any name to your chart by typing in the title box as below.
Adding a chart title

Chart Layout

Excel offers many in-built designs/layouts for pie charts. ✌ To change the layout of your chart:

Head to the Design Tab > Quick layout.

Choose from the different layouts as per your need.

Change the pie chart style

Here’s a quick demo of how the layout of the pie chart changes as we select the first layout.

Changing the chart layout

Change Slice Angle

Changing the slice angle rotates the slices in the pie chart. To do so:

  1. Right-click on the entire pie chart.
  2. From the options, click format data series.
Format data series pane
  1. Add a value to the angle of the first slice box.

It will rotate the pie, and you can adjust the value.

Rotate pie

We have increased the angle value to 88, and the slices have already rotated anti-clockwise.

Rotated slices

Chart Area

Don’t want a simple and dull white background to your pie chart?

Right-click anywhere on the chart area. From the options, click on the format chart area.

Chart area format

This takes you to the ‘Format chart area pane’.

Here you can choose different background colors, patterns, and textures. Like we did below.

Gradient fill the chart

When to use a pie chart

We have learned different techniques to modify our charts, but when can we use a pie chart? 🤔

The usage of Pie charts is very vast. Using a pie chart is highly suggested when you aim:

  • To provide the readers with an easy-to-understand graph (like the breakup of financial figures).
  • To show both value and proportion (pictorial representation of categories).
  • To offer less explanation and a better graphical representation.
  • To plot a single data series.

Pro Tip!

A pie chart has slices that show the proportion of each item to the total.

But what if the slices get too many and too thin? Such a pie chart will only become more difficult to decipher.

A pie chart is ideal for data sets where you have at most seven categories to display. 7️⃣

That’s it – Now what?

Until now, we’ve learned to create a pie chart in excel.

Also, you can now have complete control over how your chart looks. But there is much more you can do with charts in Microsoft Excel

Excel has such great depths, and this was something fundamental. Other important pie charts include 3D pies and doughnut charts. Their work is quite similar to what we have learned. Though as the name represents, they look entirely different.

In addition to charts, Excel has tons of functions to offer. Out of these, one must step forward to learn the VLOOKUP, IF, and SUMIF functions.

Looking for a way to learn these? Enroll in my 30-minute free email course to learn these and much more to become an Excel genius.😉

Other Resources

Did you know? You can do so much more to your charts in Excel.

Like adding axis labels to your charts and saving charts as images.

Want to learn about other chart variants? No problem, head to this link to learn how to make column charts in Excel.