How To Make a Pie Chart in a Spreadsheet

Surveys and numerical figures usually make a lot more sense when they are presented as graphs. Sometimes, it is difficult to interpret the real meaning of percentages and numbers. However, using diagrams that depict the relationship between different values makes it easier for a reader to understand what they mean.

One of the types of graphs commonly used is the pie chart. As the name denotes, the pie chart is reminiscent of a whole pie divided into slices or pieces. Every piece represents a percentage or value. Turning your available data into a pie chart is actually a simple process when using a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel.

Determine the data. If a spreadsheet file is not yet available, open a new spreadsheet and input the necessary data. Creating a pie chart usually involves just two columns. The first column determines the category or the descriptor, while the second column determines the values or percentages. For instance, in a pie chart that shows the result of a survey on household pets, the first column would probably include dogs, cats, and birds. In this example, the second column will show how many of each animal were found in the houses of all the respondents. Unlike the number of columns, however, there is no limit to the number of rows. The number of rows merely depends on the number of variables there are in a specific data set.

Just choose and click. The best thing about creating a pie chart in a spreadsheet is that it is a simple matter of automating the process. There is no need to manually draw a circle and divide it into parts. Just highlight the data in the two columns and then from the menu, click Insert then Chart. Another option is to directly click the chart icon on the toolbar. Performing either action will open up the Chart wizard, which provides choices for the chart type. Select Pie from the list of standard types. In Microsoft Excel 2007, the Insert tab immediately provides accessible icons to the different chart types. After clicking on Finish or OK, a pie chart will be created on the spreadsheet.

Customize, label, and save. The pie chart is actually already usable at this point. However, changing the colors and adding labels gives the chart a more customized and polished look. To change the colors, right click on the pie chart and choose Format Data Point. In earlier versions of Excel, the Patterns tab will give options for changing the colors of each data point. In Excel 2007, this can be done this using the Fill tab. Once the colors are fixed, the current labels may be edited depending on the need. It would also be a good idea to add a title or label for the chart itself. Lastly, do not forget to click Save.

There are many uses for a pie chart, not just in the business sector but even in everyday life. As such, it is a good idea to learn the basics of creating them in a spreadsheet. It may seem like a complicated task, but in reality, it can be made quick and easy with the right software.


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