There are a lot of great reasons to make a pie chart! It shows relationships between pieces of data and it’s a great way to convey an idea with very few words.
A lot of people don’t prefer using a pie chart when creating reports and dashboards, but the truth is that these are quite widely used and accepted as a good way to visualize data.
In the business place and even for personal use, pie charts are a super helpful tool. The only question is, how do you make one?
Let’s take a look at how to make a pie chart in Google Sheets since it’s free software to use.
How to Make a Pie Chart in Google Sheets
We’re going to look at step-by-step directions for how to make a pie chart. Then we’ll look at some additional steps you can take, and some cool customization that you can do too!
Keep in mind that a pie chart is used to compare things within the same larger category. In this example, we’re going to make a mock budget and compare the costs.
Our pie chart is going to show what chunk of our monthly budget goes to different categories such as food costs, rent, and student loan payments.
Below is the dataset that we will be using to create a pie chart:
You’ll notice this is a two-column pie chart, and your data might look similar, but it can be done with any data in the cells.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
- Go to the Google Sheets that has the data (of course)
- Select the cells for which you want to create the pie chart.
- With the data selected, navigate to the top bar, and click on the Insert option in the menu
- Click on the Chart option. It’s important that during your clicking you don’t accidentally click an empty cell because it will un-select the data you want to make a chart of.
The above steps would make Google Sheets use some assumptions and try to guess what type of chart you want to insert.
In this case, we got lucky and it knew we wanted a pie chart. You’ll notice that our data is still selected, and now there’s a big pie chart next to it.
The above picture was taken right after I left clicked “Chart” with my data highlighted. In other words, this is my default chart that was generated.
We can see that each category is a different color, there’s a leader pointing to them with a label, and the chart is titled “Amount”.
But, what happens if it doesn’t guess correctly or you need to change the chart type?
You have a few options.
Left-clicking the chart will highlight the whole chart area blue and you’ll get three dots in the top right corner of the chart. When you click those three dots you get some options.
Now you’ll see you can edit the chart. Clicking on the Edit chart option will open the Chart Editor pane on the right.
If you haven’t got the Pie chart as your default chart, you can change it by clicking on the Chart Type option (in the Setup tab). As you scroll down you’ll pass options like Line, Area, Column, Bar, and Pie. Clicking on “Pie Chart” will convert your chart to a pie chart if it isn’t already.
Once you have inserted the default pie graph, you can easily edit and customize it to suit your needs.
Editing the Pie Chart
So what if the automatically generated pie chart isn’t exactly what you’re looking for?
Good news. You can customize and edit a ton of options on your chart.
Let’s take a look at what we can do.
The way to start customizing is to left-click your chart, click the three dots that appear in the top right of the chart, and click “Edit chart”.
That will open a Chart Editor side window that shows some options that looks like this:
Changing the Data Range
If you messed up when you first made the pie chart and you picked the wrong cells, that’s not a problem.
Simply click the box to the right of “Data Range” and it will open this box:
You can now choose a new range by either holding left click and highlight the cells in the workbook, or you can manually type it in the box.
Changing the data range will automatically change your pie chart.
Change the Label on Your Pie Chart
You’ll notice the option to change the label as well in this same menu.
In our example, it doesn’t make sense to change the label, as there are only two columns, where one column has cost values that are plotted as the pie slices.
But in case you need to change the labels (and maybe use some other labels in a different data range), you can do that from here.
Customizing Aesthetics of Your Pie Chart
The final piece of customization you should look at is the ability to change the aesthetics of your pie chart.
What does this mean?
Well, you can change the colors, make it 3D, add a legend, change around the titles and labels, and add a donut hole.
This is found under the same side-panel menu that we were looking at before, but now we’re going to click Customize.
Changing Chart Style of Pie Chart
After clicking the “Chart style” option, the arrow will open the category to show us some options we can change.
You can change the following things in the chart using these options:
- The background color of the pie chart
- The border color of the chart. In case you don’t need a border for the chart, you can remove it by setting the chart border color to ‘none’
- Change the font style of the text
There is also an option to convert the normal chart into a 3-D pie chart. I advise against using it as a 3-D pie chart is often misleading and hard to read.
Customizing the Pie Chart Option
The next option in our customization menu is “Pie Chart”. Clicking it will drop down a list of options.
Here again, you will find some interesting options;
- Donut hole: This is where you can convert this pie chart into a donut chart. Just specify the value of the Donut hole, and it will add a hole with that much space taken off from the center of the pie chart.
- You can also change the border color of each slice using the ‘Border color‘ option
- And then there is an option to add a label to each slice
Changing Pie Slice on Pie Chart
With the Pie chart, you can also make one of the slices stand out by making it protrude slightly outside the pie graph.
Something as shown below, where I have made the car slice a bit more prominent by making it stand out (literally) from the rest of the Pie chart.
This can be done from the Pie slice settings in the Chart Editor.
Here is how to do this:
- Click on the Customize tab in the Chart Editor
- Click on the Pie Slice option. This will make it expand and show more options
- Click on the drop-down and select the category that you want to highlight
- Change the color of the pie (optional). you can use this option to make the color bright and something that stands out.
- Select the distance from the center option. Apart from selecting from the pre-existing options, you can also manually enter the value (for example 10%).
Now you know everything that goes into making a pie chart. The actual creation of the chart is just a few quick steps that we looked at earlier.
The customization options are a lot more interesting and we covered some of the more relevant options you have.
When it comes to showing data, a pie chart is a great option, and now you know how to make a pie chart on Google Sheets.
Other Google Sheets tutorials you may find useful: