Home > Microsoft Office > Microsoft Office How To

How to make a pie chart in Excel

Here's our easy to follow guide on how to make a pie chart in Excel!
Last Updated on March 6, 2024
How to make a Pie Chart in Excel
PC Guide is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read More
You can trust PC Guide: Our team of experts use a combination of independent consumer research, in-depth testing where appropriate - which will be flagged as such, and market analysis when recommending products, software and services. Find out how we test here.

If you were looking for how to make a pie chart in Excel, we’ve got you covered.

A pie chart is one of the most frequently used charts in Microsoft Excel, and you may be wondering exactly why that is. The simple answer is that it’s incredibly useful, especially if you’re dealing with large amounts of data. Visualizing large data sets with a couple of clicks also boosts your efficiency. The best part is that Excel has built-in features for creating 2-D and 3-D pie charts.

So, without further ado, here’s how to make pie charts in Excel.

Creating pie charts in Excel

Scenario on hand: We have a dataset with sales figures for a product. 

What we want to accomplish: Explore how to make a pie chart in Excel by following these steps:

  • Prepare your dataset
  • Insert the pie chart
  • Edit the pie chart  

We also explore other Excel options:

  • Using other types of pie charts
  • Filtering a pie chart

Prepare your dataset

The first step before you create any Excel table is ensuring that your data is correct. If any numbers need to be added, add them. 

Create your columns and rows of data. If you opt to label your data, these will be transferred to your pie chart later.

For our demonstration, we have created a fictional sales dataset of a product sold across different supermarkets. 

Insert the pie chart

The pie chart option automatically calculates the percentages in the data. So, we simply have to select the entire table and click ‘Insert’ from the ribbon.

Here, scroll down to Charts. Then click the Insert Pie or Doughnut Chart option (you can’t miss it; it’s in the shape of a small pie chart).

A screenshot of an Excel spreadsheet displaying a dataset titled "dataset for creating a pie chart in supermarket January sales," with sales data for various supermarkets listed, and the 'insert' ribbon tab shown to make

You should now see various options for creating your pie chart. This includes 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional pie charts. 

To choose, you can hover the cursor over your preferred pie chart option to see a sneak preview of what it will look like for your data.

Once you’ve selected the most applicable chart, click it to be added to your page in Excel.

For our demonstration, we choose the simple 2-D pie chart. 

A screenshot of Microsoft Excel with a dataset and a pie chart depicting sales distribution among various supermarkets.

This is the pie chart we get:

A pie chart made in Excel displaying the distribution of January sales among nine different retailers, each represented by a unique color.

In the third step, we will edit this pie chart to look more professional. 

Edit the pie chart  

If you’ve made a pie chart but aren’t happy with the chart type, you don’t need to worry! It’s relatively easy to make some changes. But if you don’t know how to make these changes, we’ve outlined some simple methods below.

Using ready-made pie chart styles

If you’re working with a newer version of Excel, you will get a range of ready-made chart styles to choose from. These chart styles look professional, and you can use them as they are or with slight modifications. 

Upon selecting the chart, you can browse through the list of chart styles when a ‘Chart Design’ tab appears on your ribbon. 

A screenshot showing a Microsoft Excel application window with a dataset for creating a pie chart, which is displayed on the right side of the window, ready to make the pie chart.

For our demonstration, we will not choose from these automatic styles. We will explore manual ways to edit your chart so you can modify your chart as per your liking or needs. 

Pie chart colors

You will see the option to change the chart colors beside the chart styles. 

Since we have several data points, monochromatic colors won’t be suitable. So, we select this color palette to reduce the number of colors on the chart but ensure that every data point is distinct:

The image shows an open Excel program with a bar chart and a pie chart, representing January sales data, alongside a partially visible spreadsheet containing the data used to make the charts.

Pie chart title

If you want to change the chart’s header, all you need to do is double-click the title and enter the new name. 

You can also change the positioning of the chart title by dragging it around.

Clicking on the chart title also opens a ‘Format Chart Title’ window on the left. 

Screenshot of an Excel application showing a pie chart labeled "supermarket - January sales" with accompanying dataset on the left side of the screen, and the chart formatting options on the right.

Here are the edits you can make from this window:

  • Change the background of the chart title text box (solid fill, gradient fill, picture or texture fill, pattern fill)
  • Change the border of the chart title text box (no line, gradient line, solid line, color, transparency, width, dash type, etc. )
  • Adjust the shadow, glow, edges 
  • Align the chart title text box 

We added dashes to the chart title text box’s border:

A pie chart, created in Excel, illustrating the market share distribution among eight supermarkets during January sales.

Pie chart area

When you click on the background of the pie chart, Excel will open up a ‘Format Chart Area’ window on the left. Here, you can change the background color, add texture to the background, and even soften the edges. 

Here’s how the softened edges look:

A colorful Excel pie chart displaying the market share of various supermarkets during January sales.

To make our chart look professional, we added a pattern to the background and changed the background of the chart title text box to white for better visibility:

A pie chart made in Excel illustrating the distribution of January sales across various supermarkets on a striped green and white background.

Editing data labels 

Data labels are the most critical aspects of any chart. In pie charts, legends are depicted with color, and percentages are only illustrated by the size of the pie slice. 

However, we want to add data labels to our chart so it becomes more descriptive.

To change data labels, head to ‘Add Chart Element’ under the ‘Chart Design’ tab. Go to data labels and choose the data label type you need. 

Screenshot of Excel displaying a pie chart entitled "Supermarket - January Sales" made from data in a spreadsheet.

For the best look, we choose the ‘Best fit’ option. But we want the data labels in percentages. 

To change the data labels from units sold to percentages, we select the data labels to open the ‘Format Data Labels’ window.

From this window, we change the label options to ‘Percentage’ instead of ‘Value’:

A screenshot of Excel displaying a pie chart titled "Supermarket - January Sales" with a dataset for creating a pie chart and the "Format Data Labels" options box open, highlighting the 'show leader

Under ‘Format Data Labels, ‘ we select ‘Text Options.’ Here, we change the text color to white and add a shadow to it. 

Here is what our chart looks like now:

A pie chart made in Excel displaying the distribution of supermarket sales in January, segmented by category, each with a different percentage.

Explore the pie chart 

We want to take out the biggest slice of the pie to highlight it for the sales team. You can also do this by simply double-clicking on the piece you want to pull away. Then, drag your cursor until it’s the distance you want it, and you’re all set!

We also type the supermarket’s name on the label to specify the name. Here is what it looks like now:

A pie chart made in Excel presenting the percentage distribution of supermarket sales in January, with various sections labeled with different percentages and one specifically identified as "freshway 19%".

Other types of pie charts 

3D pie charts 

You can convert your creation to a 3D pie chart using the same option you used to add the chart:

A screenshot of a Microsoft Excel application with a dataset and a pie chart displayed, highlighting how to make data analysis functionalities.

Here’s how it looks like converted to 3D:

A pie chart made in Excel displaying the distribution of supermarket sales in January by percentage, with various segments representing different sales proportions for each identified category.

Right-click the pie and click ‘3-D Rotation’. This will allow you to rotate your 3D pie to whichever angle you prefer:

A screenshot of Excel showing a pie chart titled "Supermarket - January Sales" with a dataset for making the chart visible on the left. The context menu is open with options to format the data.

Pie of pie and bar of pie

Pie of pie is a great way to minimize the number of slices in your pie and create a separate pie for the smallest values in your data. 

When we press ‘Pie of pie,’ it consolidates the smallest three values into a separate pie:

Pie charts made in Excel illustrating the percentage distribution of January sales for a supermarket, with different categories marked by varying colors and corresponding percentages.

The bar of the pie is another way to represent the smallest three values in your data. 

As the last step, we added the legend to the left.

This image features a pie chart made in Excel displaying the market share of various supermarkets during January sales, with a legend on the left side listing the names of the supermarkets corresponding to the colors in the chart

Additional option: Filter the pie chart

If you wish to filter out some values from your pie chart, click the funnel symbol on the top left corner of your chart area. 

Unselect the values you want to filter out and click ‘Apply’:

A screenshot of an Excel spreadsheet program displaying a pie chart titled "supermarket - january sales" with a dataset on the left side and filter options on the right, including selected supermarkets such as big

Wrapping up

Pie charts can visually represent vast amounts of information in a relatively compact space. They break the data down and allow you to illustrate exactly how several values can make a whole in the form of pie slices.

In this guide, we explored the basic pie chart and how we can convert our data into stunning visual representations using Excel’s editing features. 

Check out these in-depth guides to learn more about Excel.

Andrew is one of three co-founders of BGFG, the parent company of PC Guide. A keen gamer and PC enthusiast, Andrew dabbles in a bit of writing sometimes - when he gets the chance to!