Creating an Excel Pie Chart

Introduction

Pie charts offer a simple way to visualize proportions and percentages in your data, with each "pie slice" representing one of those percentages. Microsoft Excel makes it easy to generate pie charts from your spreadsheet data. In this article, we'll walk you through the process of creating an Excel pie chart and saving that chart as an image.

Prerequisites

Before proceeding with this tutorial, you'll need to install a supported version of Microsoft Office on your Mac or Windows machine. It's best to use Office 2016 or newer.

You'll also need to create some numerical test data for the pie charts you want to generate. The data should contain a column for the pie labels and another column for the numerical values that represent the size of each pie slice.

The following table is an example of spreadsheet data that can be represented as a pie chart in an Excel spreadsheet:

Pie Label Value
Piece 1 33
Piece 2 45
Piece 3 42

Excel will automatically add the values for each item and calculate the percentages for you.

Excel pie charts

Pie charts are generated from row and column values in your spreadsheet. In some cases, Excel can determine the dataset to use based on the arrangement of your cell values; however, it's better to select the cells that you'd like to use to populate the chart.

Create a chart from a table in Excel

After you've selected the cell range for your chart, click the Insert tab, then click the pie chart icon next to the "Recommended Charts" button.

Screenshot of pie chart types for a selected cell range in a spreadsheet

You'll see a pop-up window containing several pie chart types, including 3D pie charts. Some versions of Excel will let you hover over a chart type to view a preview chart of your data before you click and commit to one.

Screenshot of cells selected for inserting a chart in Excel

Select a chart type and color

Once you've created the chart, you should see a dropdown arrow. This will allow you to browse and select from various chart designs.

Selecting a chart design for an Excel pie chart in a spreadsheet

You'll also see the Change Colors button to the the left of the designs. This button will allow you to change the color themes for the chart.

Shortcut key for a chart in Excel

The Excel chart shortcut key is F11 in Windows. If you're using macOS, press alt+fn+F1, and Excel will dynamically generate a chart for you.

Add a title to an Excel chart

To create a title for an Excel chart, you can double-click on the title and type something, or you can use a formula with an absolute reference. Using a formula allows the title to be changed dynamically by binding it to a cell's value in your sheet.

Dynamic chart title in Excel

When you create a dynamic chart title, be sure to edit the value for the title's formula (fx) input field. Type "=" and click on the cell whose value will be used to dynamically change the chart's title. You can see how this works in the screenshot below:

Screenshot of the pie chart title label being changed dynamically

NOTE: You may need to press F4 (or command+T on a Mac) to set the absolute reference for the cell location.

Use Excel to save a chart as an image

In some versions of Excel, you can save a chart as an image file. To do this, right-click on the white background of the chart near the edge of the chart area, then click the Save as Picture... option in the popup menu:

Screenshot of using Excel to save a chart as an image in macOS

It should allow you to export the chart in a variety of common file types: PNG, JPG, PDF and more.

In other versions of Excel, you'll have to right-click and copy the chart into your clipboard, or left-click on the chart area and press CTRL+C. After copying the chart, paste the contents stored in your clipboard into a photo editor like MS Paint, Adobe Photoshop or GIMP.

Once you've pasted the contents into your photo application, you can save or export the image.

Screenshot of using GIMP to save an Excel chart as a PNG file

Delete a chart in Excel

Certain versions of Excel will have an option to delete the chart if you right-click on the chart area; otherwise, you can left-click on the pie chart to ensure that it's selected and press the Backspace or DEL key to permanently remove the inserted chart.

Conclusion

If you need a clear visual representation of your data, a pie chart can be an effective option. In Excel, generating a pie chart from your spreadsheet data is a quick and simple process. This article walked you through the steps involved in creating a pie chart in Excel. With these instructions to guide you, you'll be able to generate charts from your own worksheet data.

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