How to Make a Pie Chart in Excel

Part of a new series of blogs I plan on writing, this is the first one on a basic Excel feature. I wanted to start writing this series as I plan to tutor students and mutuals alike on Excel in my courses, and it would make it far easier to provide my peers (and hopefully several others worldwide) with walkthroughs I created — explained in simple, straightforward steps.

Select your data.

Your data should look something like this. The two important sets of data you need to worry about for a pie chart are the categorical values (independent variable) and a single measured value (dependent variable). If you want to visualize more measured values across categories, you will need to use another pie chart or a more complex visualization.

Let’s say we want to visualize “Measure 2” in a pie chart. Measure 2 is measured in US dollars. You need to first select the data you want to appear in your pie chart. Here’s how to select your data:

Highlight the first column or row of data by clicking and dragging across the column, including the name/title. The result should look like this:

Now, hold down control+alt (this is for Mac, but it should be the same on Windows). While holding control+alt, click and drag to select the data representing the second variable, just as you did in the previous step. In our case, it’s “Measure 2”. The result should look something like this:

You have now selected the data you will use to make a pie chart. Next step is to make the pie chart using the data selected.

Note: be sure your desired data is still highlighted/selected before moving onto the next step.

Create the pie chart.

With your data selected, head to the Insert tab at the top. It should look like:

See the little icon that looks like a pie chart?

Yeah, click that one. It should open a menu that looks like this:

These are your different choices for pie charts. I encourage you to select different types to see how they interact with your data. For now, I’ll use the most traditional one. Click on this one:

The result should pop up on your spreadsheet in a short period of time, and looks like the image below:

Customize your chart.

This is completely optional — it’s up to you whether or not you need to display more information than what is displayed in the default chart above. For presenting it may be helpful to have the actual values displayed, which represent the different percent of the total of each the measured values. To do this, you can right click (or click with two fingers if you’re on Mac, or control+click) on the pie chart and select “Add data labels”.

The chart would then look like this:

Skadoosh. You’ve got a pie chart.

There are plenty of additional customizations available in Excel to change the look and feel of your pie chart. These are important as they can affect how the information is presented to your audience, but that’s for another article.

Hope this helps get you through a class project, work assignment, or personal project. Follow me for more updates!

This article was written for Petra’s sister, to complete a research project. You’re welcome!

Data Science Intern & Full-Time Student