The Pie Chart is a primary chart type in Excel. Pie charts are meant to express a "part to whole" relationship, where all pieces together represent 100%. Pie charts work best to display data with a small number of categories (2-5). For example, survey questions in yes/no format, data split by gender (male/female), new and returning visitors to a website, etc.

Pie charts should be avoided when there are many categories, or when categories do not total 100%. The human eye has trouble comparing the relative size of slices in a pie chart, so pie charts should also be avoided when slices are similar, unless similarity is the point.


  • Simple, compact presentation
  • Can be read "at a glance" with limited categories
  • Excel can calculate % values automatically


  • Difficult to compare relative size of slices
  • Become cluttered and dense as categories are added
  • Limited to part-to-whole data
  • Poor at showing change over time


  • Limit categories
  • Avoid all 3d variants

See also: Dataviz expert Ann Emery's Pie Chart Guidelines.


Chart Examples

Example pie chart with ice cream flavor survey results

Survey results favorite ice cream flavor

Pie charts are one of the simplest chart types in Excel, good for showing "part-to-whole" relationships with data in a small number of categories. Pie charts get a lot of criticism in the professional data visualization world, but they are compact and effective when the number of categories is...Read more