How to Create Exploding Pie Charts in Excel

Emphasize important pie chart data

Pie chart and a figure to stand on that
Yagi Studio / Getty Images

Excel has several options for adding emphasis to specific sections or slices of a pie chart that do not involve changing or rearranging the chart data — these include:

  • Exploding, or pulling out, the chosen slice from the rest of the pie.
  • Focusing on one or more slices using a Pie of Pie chart.
  • Focusing on one or more slices using a Bar of Pie chart.

Note: Instructions in this article apply to Excel versions 2019, 2016, 2013, and Excel for Office 365.

Exploding out a Single Slice of Pie

Screenshot of Excel showing an exploded pie chart

To add emphasis to a particular piece of a pie chart, you can move or explode the slice out from the rest of the chart as illustrated in the image above.

  1. Click once on the plot area of the pie chart to highlight it.

  2. Click a second time on the slice to be exploded.

  3. The highlight should now surround just this single slice of pie, including a dot in the center of the chart.

  4. Click and drag the selected slice of the pie, pulling it out away from the rest of the chart.

  5. If you need to move the exploded slice back to its original location, use Excel's undo feature, or drag the slice back to the pie chart and it will automatically return to its original location.

Pie of Pie and Bar of Pie Charts

Another option for adding emphasis to certain parts of a pie chart is to use a Pie of Pie or a Bar of Pie chart instead of a regular pie chart.

Screenshot of Excel showing a Pie of Pie chart

If you have one or two larger slices that dominate the pie chart, making it difficult to see the details of the smaller slices, you can switch to one of the above-mentioned chart types; these emphasize the smaller slices in a secondary chart, either a second pie chart or a stacked bar chart.

Unless changed, Excel will automatically include the three smallest slices (data points) in the secondary pie or stack bar chart. To create a Pie of Pie or Bar of Pie chart:

  1. Highlight the range of data to be used in the chart.

  2. Click the Insert tab of the ribbon.

  3. In the Charts box of the ribbon, click the Insert Pie Chart icon to open the drop-down menu of available chart types. Hover your mouse pointer over a chart type to read a description of the chart.

  4. Click either Pie of Pie or Bar of Pie chart in the 2-D Pie section of the drop-down menu to add that chart to the worksheet.

The left-hand chart is always the main chart, with the secondary chart always appearing on its right. This arrangement cannot be changed.

Changing Chart Types

Screenshot of Excel showing how to change chart type

To switch from an existing regular pie chart to either a Pie of Pie or Bar of Pie chart:

  1. Right-click the current chart to open the context menu.

  2. In the menu, click Change Chart Type to open the Change Chart Type dialog box.

  3. In the dialog box, click the All Charts tab.

  4. Click Pie in the left side pane and then click Pie of Pie or Bar of Pie in the right pane for the dialog box.

Changing the Number of Data Points

To change the number of data points (slices) displayed in the secondary chart:

  1. Double-click the primary pie chart to open the Format Data Series pane.

  2. In the pane, click the down arrow next to the Split Series By option.

The options available for changing the number of data points in the second chart include:

  • Split the Series by Position: In the Values in second plot box, enter the number of positions or slices displayed in the second chart (a minimum of three).
  • Split the Series by Value: In the Values less than box, enter a number that is larger than the smallest data value to be displayed in the secondary chart.
  • Split the Series by Percentage Value: In the Values less than box, enter a percent value between 0% and 100%. This value relates to the percentage of the main chart's total value to be displayed in the secondary chart.