How to create a pie chart in Excel in 60 seconds or less

In early 2021, I was tasked with a task: create a pie chart showing what types of content were performing best on the marketing blog in 2020.

The question was undeniably important as it would impact what types of content we wrote in 2021 and identify new growth opportunities.

But after gathering all the relevant data I got stuck – how could I just make a pie chart to showcase my results?

Fortunately, I’ve since found out. Here, let’s explore how you can make your own Excel pie chart for great marketing reports and presentations. You will also learn how to rotate a pie chart in Excel, explode a pie chart, and even make a three-dimensional version.

Let’s dive in.

How to make a pie chart in Excel

1. Create your columns and / or rows of data. You can label any column of data – Excel will use these labels as the title for your pie chart. Then highlight the data that you want to display in the form of a pie chart.

Highlighted columns of data in Excel for creating a pie chart.

2. Now click on “Insert” and then on the “Pie” logo at the top of Excel.

The pie chart tool in Excel.

3. Here are some cake options including 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional. For our purposes, click the first image of a two-dimensional pie chart.

Various pie chart design options, including 2-D and 3-D pies, in Excel.

4. And there you have it! A pie chart appears with the dates and labels you highlighted.

A complete pie chart created in Excel.

If you’re not happy with the colors or the design of the pie chart, you have plenty of editing options too.

Let’s get into that next.

How to edit a pie chart in Excel

Background color

1. You can change the background color by clicking the paint bucket icon in the “Format Diagram Area” sidebar.

Then choose the fill type (whether you want a solid color as the pie chart background or a gradient or pattern fill) and the background color.

The background color tool for pie charts in Excel.

Pie chart text

2. Then click on the text in the pie chart itself if you want to rewrite, expand the text, or move the text to a new area of ​​your pie chart.

The text editor tool for pie charts in Excel.

Pie chart border

3. In the Format Chart Area area, you can also edit the edge of your pie chart – including the edge transparency, width and color.

Format the frame tool for pie charts in Excel in the Chart Area sidebar.

Pie chart shadow

4. To change the pie chart field itself (including the field’s shadow, edges, and glow), click the pentagon shape in the chart area sidebar.

Then toggle the bar between Transparency, Size, Blur, and Angle until you are happy with the shadow of your pie chart box.

The options for Shadow, Glow, Soft Edges, or 3D Format for pie charts in Excel.

Pie chart colors

5. In the upper left corner of Excel, click the color palette to change the colors of your pie chart.

Excel offers a number of complementary colors – including some presets under “Colorful” and some presets under “Monochrome”. You can click between the options until you find a color palette that you are happy with.

(Alternatively, if you’d like to change the colors of your pie chart pieces one at a time, just double-click the pie chart piece, go to the painting area of ​​the format chart area, and choose a new color.)

The color options for your pie chart in Excel are preset by Excel.

How to change the color of a single pie chart in Excel.

Chart title

6. Change the chart title by clicking the three-bar chart icon in the upper left corner of Excel, then going to Chart Title> None, Chart Title> Above Chart, or Chart Title> Centered Overlay.

The chart title tool in Excel for editing the placement of your title for your pie chart.

Change the location of the data labels

7. On the same icon with three bar charts, click Data Labels to change where your labels appear on the pie chart. (For example, would you like the pie chart pieces to be labeled in the center or on the outside of each pie chart section?)

Switch row / column

8. If you’d rather switch which data is shown in the pie chart, click Switch Row / Column to view alternate information that matches your original data set.

The button to switch rows / columns in Excel.

How to explode a pie chart in Excel

1. To explode a piece of your pie chart (which can help you highlight or draw attention to a specific section of your pie chart) simply double-click the piece you want to remove.

Then drag the cursor until it is the distance you want and you are done!

The tool to pull a piece of your pie chart away from the whole in Excel.

How to make a 3D pie chart in Excel

1. To create a three-dimensional pie chart in Excel, simply highlight your data and then click the “Pie” logo.

The pie chart button in Excel

2. Then select the “3-D Pie” option.

The 3-D pie chart option in Excel for creating a 3-D version.

3. When you’re finished, select the design option you want at the top of the screen.

The design options for pie charts in Excel.

How to rotate a pie chart in Excel

To rotate your pie chart, double-click the chart, then double-click the three-bar icon under “Format Data Point”.

Then toggle the “Angle of First Slice” until you’ve rotated the pie chart to the degree you want.

How to rotate a pie chart in Excel using the format data point.

And there you have it! You are well on your way to creating clean, impressive pie charts for your marketing collateral to highlight important data and get stakeholders to act.

Ultimately, you’ll want to experiment with all of Excel’s unique formatting features until you find the pie chart that works best for your needs. Good luck!

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