People find it easier to grasp complex data when presented with graphs or charts. Pie charts are among the most common formats of representation over the years.
You will likely see them in blogs, newspapers, television, and presentations at work. Microsoft Excel is one of the oldest and most widely used data visualization tools for making pie charts.
What is a Pie Chart?
A pie chart depicts data or statistics in visual form. Segments or slices of the pie represent a proportion of the whole. The size of each slice of the pie corresponds to the relative quantity or percentage of a specific category within a dataset.
This offers a clear and concise way to convey the distribution and relationships among the different components of that dataset.
To create a pie chart, you need a minimum of two distinct values that add up to 100% of the data.
However, pie charts become less effective as a data visualization format if the dataset is too complex or has too many variables.
These charts are popular examples of pie charts because they summarize extensive data in a simple visual form and require little explanation.
For instance, they are often used to represent the different categories of a dataset—for example, population distribution collected through a census or the number of people who have responded to a survey.
Let’s take the first example.
Say you have collected information on a population’s language proficiency or the distribution of age groups of that population in a specific geography. Pie charts, in this case, would be the most effective way to represent each visually.
In the second example, survey your customers’ experience on a Likert scale. Using distinct colors, use a pie chart to compute the ratings and represent different categories.
Pie charts in project management
Pie charts are handy for creating project management charts showing critical project information. Charts display details of who is doing which task in a team and the time it takes to complete each stage in a project cycle.
Project managers share and interpret information with pie charts and other visual diagrams. This helps project managers make informed decisions during the project.
You get many project management software options and Excel alternatives on the internet, and each is equally adept at turning data into striking visuals. We will, however, look at the process of creating a basic pie chart in Excel.
3 Easy Steps to Make a Pie Chart in Excel
In most spreadsheet applications, you need two inputs to create a simple pie chart—two or more categories of a dataset and the number associated with each.
Follow the three steps to create a pie chart.
Step 1: Enter Data
Open a blank worksheet in Excel and enter the data categories and the numbers or percentages for each. Each category will eventually become a slice of the pie.
Take this simple project management scenario: a dataset representing the completion percentage of tasks across the project.
The data set could look like this:
Remember that you can’t have overlapping percentages or numbers; if you must present percentages, it must ideally add up to a hundred. Also, only one table of data at a time.
Step 2: Select the Data
Highlight the table you want to include in the pie chart. Since Excel uses only a single data series, all the values you want to represent as slices should be in a column or row in your spreadsheet.
Each value in this series will correspond to a slice in the pie chart.
There’s a nifty solution to generate chart titles in Excel. If you include the column labels in your selection, the label will automatically appear as the chart title. Remember, you cannot edit the chart title once you create the chart.
Step 3: Insert Pie Chart
Once you have selected the table, click the ‘Insert’ tab on the toolbar ribbon, then click on the Pie Chart icon.
Choose a suitable 2-D or 3-D pie chart style. Doughnuts work much the same way.
Here’s a pro tip: We interpret proportions more accurately if they’re flat than in three dimensions. But if you want to emphasize a specific slice, perhaps one that is much more significant than the other, use the 3-D pie.
For the sake of this example, let’s select the 3-D pie option.
Your pie chart should now look like this:
How to Edit or Modify a Pie Chart in Excel
After learning to create a basic pie chart in Excel, let’s learn how to customize the chart elements.
Graphs and charts in Excel are highly customizable. Choose different colors and gradients for the slices, change the dimensions, create a legend, and more.
Changing the style and color of the pie
Click on the paintbrush icon beside your pie chart to customize its appearance. Choose from an array of style and color options to create a pie chart you like.
Changing the chart title
To customize the chart title, don’t select the column labels while inserting the pie chart. As in the screenshot below, select the rows containing the data values without the labels.
The chart, in this case, will appear with a default editable chart title.
Now click on ‘Chart Title’ at the top of the pie chart to edit it.
Adding data labels to the pie chart
After editing the chart title, let’s learn to add and format data labels for each pie chart slice. Hover the cursor over the pie chart and right-click. Select the option ‘Add Data Labels’ from the menu that appears.
Now select ‘Add Data Labels’ from the drop-down.
Once selected, the data labels corresponding to each pie chart segment will appear. In this example, this would be the completion percentages.
Adding data callouts to the pie chart
Add data callouts to the pie chart. The steps are relatively similar to adding data labels.
Right-click on your Pie Chart, then select ‘Add Data Labels.’ Select ‘Add Data Callouts’ from the drop-down.
The callouts will then appear like this:
Resizing a pie chart
Resizing pie charts is simple. To adjust the chart’s dimensions, click on one of the corners and drag it to resize it; make it large or small as per your requirements.
Rotating the pie chart
To rotate your pie chart in Excel, right-click on the Pie Chart and select the option ‘Format Data Series.’
Once selected, go to the ‘Series Options’ and edit the angle of the first slice. Play around with this until you find the best angle.
Formatting the pie chart legend
A legend helps the readers identify the significance of each slice of the pie and appears by default when you create a pie chart in Excel.
To remove the legend, right-click on it and select the ‘Delete’ option. To modify the legend’s appearance, right-click and choose ‘Format Legend.’ This allows you to reposition the legend and format the font to your preference.
3 Limitations of Creating Pie Charts in Excel
Most spreadsheet applications allow you to create pie charts and doughnuts from tables. While creating and editing pie charts in Excel is an excellent skill, be aware of a few challenges unique to this tool.
Three constraints are limiting when working with pie charts in Excel.
Single Data Series Constraint
Excel’s pie charts will contain a single data series in most instances. That limits their suitability for representing complex datasets that involve multiple data series.
In cases where you need visual representation of diverse datasets, alternative chart types like bar charts will offer more versatility.
Use Excel to create bar charts, but the process is more complicated.
Customization options for pie charts in Excel are somewhat limited compared to other chart types. Fine-tuning elements such as individual slice colors or precise label placement often prove complex, even impossible.
Excel does not offer much flexibility for customization. But the good news is that you will find pie chart tools in several other apps and software.
Data Label Management Difficulties
Managing data labels on pie charts within Excel is challenging, particularly when dealing with crowded visualizations.
Excel’s automatic placement of labels results in overlap or readability issues, sometimes requiring additional manual adjustments to present the labels clearly.
Create Effortless Pie Charts with ClickUp
There’s no question Excel is an excellent spreadsheet application, however, it has some unique limitations.
ClickUp is a capable tool for making pie charts (and other data visualization formats). The adaptability and customization options available in ClickUp make it a versatile alternative.
How to make pie charts in ClickUp
ClickUp Dashboards provide a top-level overview of all activities within your workspace.
These dashboards consist of highly customizable cards, which act as the building blocks of your dashboard. Use these custom cards to quickly create a pie chart of your data.
The drill-down feature allows you to customize the cards on your dashboard to see more details. Make changes on any column, slice, segment, or data point on your chart within the ClickUp dashboard using the drill-down feature on pie charts.
Let’s take the example of a dataset that breaks down workload by status.
You will find tags, the count of subtasks, checklists, and indicators for blocking or waiting beside each task.
View the task’s assignees, due date, and status on the columns to the right. ClickUp allows you to drill down into each element and find specific information.
Another great feature of ClickUp is its ability to easily organize the data captured by Date Custom Fields into a particular time range to visualize trends in a Pie chart.
Go Beyond Excel with a More Capable Tool
Unlike Excel; you can go beyond creating charts and graphs for presentations in your project management journey with ClickUp.
Project management goes beyond reporting and data visualization. While operating Excel and other spreadsheets is an excellent skill, managing a project’s lifecycle will come down to choosing the right tools to complement it.
With dashboards, automation, tools for collaboration, and much more, ClickUp is a powerful project management tool in your arsenal.
To learn more about what’s possible with ClickUp, schedule a demo today.