Statistics Basics: Pie Charts in Excel

Statistics Basics: Pie Charts in Excel


A pie chart is a circle graph that shows relationships of parts to a whole and therefore are excellent for data as percents of a whole like budgets. Using Excel to input your data allows you to create a pie chart with the Excel program.


To begin open Excel and create a chart of data with labels, in this case a monthly budget (see chart on right). Column one is for the labels of the budget items. Once all the data is entered creating the Pie chart is very simple in Excel.



To Create the pie chart:

  1. Highlight both columns: the labels and the data.
  2. Go to the ‘Insert’ tab on the menu bar.
  3. Click on ‘Recommended Charts’ (red circle) and click on the pie chart. (you can also click on the pie chart pictured right next to that (green box). The Chart will come up immediately. See Pie Chart below the menu bar and on the left.

The chart is automatically labeled with all the items in the chart and each item is color coded. The title is the same as the title of the data column. You should keep this in mind when deciding what to call your columns.


For this budget I used 8 different items below is another budget with 14 items. Pie charts don’t work well with too many items. It becomes difficult to read and to differentiate between items as wedges get smaller and colors become similar.

After you have made your original list and pie chart Excel has a nice feature for when you need to make changes in your data. If you add new items to your data list or change some of the data amounts themselves the pie chart automatically adapts for those changes. It’s a very helpful feature since budgets can and frequently do change in the day to day.

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