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chartAnalyzing data? Creating a pie graph is an easy way to see your information broken down by variable and in proportions. A pie graph is like a pizza pie, it’s a circle sliced up into sections according to the data input. This means that the whole pie is 100% and each slice is a division of the total 100%. You can change the colors and label the pie and pie slices however you want. It’s a surefire way to understand data when numbers are just a bit too noisy.

Pie charts are often used in the business world to display data for investors, presentations or for your records. They are also used frequently for polls and to demonstrate other proportional data. Most of the time pie charts are made in data analyzing programs, but there are also some online options available if you don’t have this kind of software. In the course Data Visualization you will learn a myriad of ways to visually display your data and why this is important for giving a presentation or creating a report.

For this example we’re going to use Excel to create a pie chart. If you don’t have Excel you can go to Meta-Chart or Piecolor to create your pie chart online. There will be more flexibility if you use a program like Excel, though. Here’s an in-depth tutorial on Excel charts to check out.

We’re going to analyze data collected on the most favored T.V. shows on television. We want to know what show has the most viewers and what percentage that is of the total people polled. The circle graph, or pie chart, will split up the pie to give us visual representation and the formula we use will show us the proportion ratio. The numbers below represent how many people polled like each show the best.

Total people polled: 5,202,000

Step 1

Open Excel and create a new spreadsheet. Or, open a spreadsheet with the data you wish to analyze.

Step 2

If you’re data is not already in the spread sheet now is the time to do so. Columns are identified by their letter, and rows are identified by a number in Excel. Use the first column, Column A, to enter the names of your data. In this case the names would be the titles of the T.V. shows. In the second column, Column B, enter your numbers. This would be the amount of people who watch each show. Try to make sure that your data remains in only two columns and that the columns are side by side. If you want to name your columns, do so in Row 1 and begin entering your data in Row 2.

Step 3

Select your data. To do this drag your cursor over all of the data. For instance, you used Rows 1-10 and columns A and B. You want to drag your cursor over all 10 rows and both columns to highlight all of the data input. It should turn a light blue color.

Step 4

At the top of your screen, you should see the ribbon tab Insert next to Home. Click on it and a new toolbar of options will appear. In the middle you should see Recommended Charts and a bunch of little chart-looking buttons. Find the circle chart and hover over it with your mouse. It should tell say Insert Pie or Doughnut Chart. Click on this chart and you will be presented with what kind of pie chart you would like to insert. You can choose between your standard pie chart, a 3-D pie chart, a doughnut chart or a pie chart that has a second smaller pie chart to clarify smaller proportions. Read about the different kinds of graphs you can choose from and why one may better suit your needs over another.

Choose which pie graph fits your set of data best. Remember that you can change this at any time, so just play around until it looks right. I selected the standard pie chart.

Step 5

Notice how your chart doesn’t have a title, it instead says “chart title”. Double click on this box to change the text. You can change the whole look and feel of your pie chart by clicking on the Design ribbon at the top of your Excel screen. Within Design you will also be able to change the colors of your pie chart and background, add labels or remove labels, add another key or explanation, change chart type or move the chart. Next to Design there is a Format tab. Click this to change the color of the text, style of the text or add other shapes to your chart if necessary. In the picture below there is a + sign next to the chart. This will appear once you click on the box that contains the chart. This is a quick way to change certain elements of your charts appearance as well. The same goes for the paint brush and martini glass looking icon. Play around with these tools and you can get a pie graph that is exactly what you want, representing the data you want. The course Data Analytics for Beginners you’ll learn how to use practical techniques to interpret big data.


Step 6

Once you’ve completed editing your chart, you can save it as an image (.jpeg, .bmp, .png) to use in other programs. Right click on the shaded area or white area of the pie chart box. Don’t select individual elements as you won’t save the whole image. Copy the image by pushing Ctrl+C, cut the image by pushing Ctrl+Z. Now you can save this as an image a few different ways.

Open a new Paint document and push Ctrl+V. This will paste the image you cut or copied from Excel. Go to File>Save As and select which format you want the image to be in. Title your pie chart and hit save.

This option is cool as you can save a fully functioning chart to either Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, meaning, it will contain links to data (if you have that) and when you edit it in Excel – it updates in the other programs! To do this, just copy or cut the image from excel as described above and then open PowerPoint or Word. Instead of pushing Ctrl+V to past the image, right click in the new blank document. Under Paste Options you want to select the third icon over. When you hover over it, it should say Keep Source Formatting and Link Data. Select this option.

This will save your pie chart as an image and it won’t be updated or linked to your Excel pie chart. With your pie graph copied or cut from Excel, open a new Word document. Instead of pushing Ctrl+V to paste, go to the Paste button in the top left corner and select Paste Special from the drop-down list. Select which type of image format you prefer and then hit okay. When the image appears, right click it and select Save as Picture. That’s it!

To learn more about Excel functions (there are a lot of them) take the course Excel for Beginners. It will cover all the basic awesome features of Excel that you can use in future projects.


Page Last Updated: May 2014

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