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Tutorial for Data-Driven Charts 012 – Pie Charts

Working with Pie Charts

Pie charts are primarily used to show pieces of a whole. When you need a lot of pie charts on a page to tell the story, you may want to consider a subdivided 100% column chart if the segments are all labeled the same. If not, a pie chart is your best bet.

Customizing data-driven charts

Adjust size

To adjust the size of a data-driven chart, you must double click on it and then adjust it by pulling the corner handles. Do not size without double-clicking on the chart. The text will skew and the chart may even eventually corrupt if you size incorrectly. This is important. The text may scale as you do this (which is an option you can choose or not choose). We recommend that you do not scale your text, as font size consistency is important for readability.

Color variations

The fill in the pie charts come in as the same color. The lines in the pie chart are what make the divisions. We advocate using color as a tool - to highlight or as another layer of information - and not merely to add interest to the chart. See the best practice on using color in data-driven charts. You can add color to the slices by double clicking on them while the chart is activated. Select the color you wish to use in the patterns menu. When you use a legend, it is the color that creates the divisions, so you can eliminate the lines.

The slice colors will adjust to your template's default color scheme when imported. If you have a lot of slices, the color palette will plot those colors first and then pull from the preset color palette in Microsoft Graph. You may want to adjust those colors to something more complementary to your template's color scheme.

Depending on the colors in your template's palette, you may need to lighten or darken the numeric values in some of the pie slices so that they can be seen. Just double click on the number and select a new color from in the font menu.

3D variations

3D is not recommended. 3D in charts is ambiguous and imprecise. The idea behind presenting data is to be precise. Never sacrifice clarity or concision for the sake of style.


Shadows are not recommended

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Gradients can work in pie charts. Use them carefully and make sure that the gradient is not so varied that the text in the slice becomes hard to read.


Animate with a purpose. Simple reveals are much more effective than the more "startling" animations, unless of course you are trying to startle your audience. Add pizzazz by way of content, not by adding sparkly accessories.

Series that relate to this tutorial:

DD012 – Data-Driven Charts 012 – Pie Charts

Possible use example

Links to instructions for getting the framework into your presentation

  1. Determine the best file type for your needs
  2. Download the file
  3. Import the framework into your presentation
    1. Importing a PPT file
    2. Importing a EMF or PNG
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