Deep Dive: The Parts of a PowerPoint Pie Chart - An Anatomy Lesson

About this lesson

Learn all about the anatomy of a PowerPoint Pie Chart and take complete control of every element.

Once you know the vocabulary of Pie Chart elements, you know what and how to alter any item in the PowerPoint Pie Graph.

This tutorial is a recipe for successful Pie Graph designs.


01:09 Three Ways to Uncovering Chart Format Pane
02:36 The Full Chart Object
03:17 The Plot Area
04:07 The Chart Title
05:06 The Chart Data
06:32 The Legend
07:06 The Chart Data Series (Collection)
08:12 Individual Data Series – Format Individual Pie Slide Color or Exploding Out


Subject Microsoft PowerPoint

Software Compatibility All versions


Course Completed

PDF Files There are not any files associated with this lesson.



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The PowerPoint pie chart is the best choice for visually displaying a single collection of data. It’s simple, elegant, and easy to understand. But to take complete control, you must be able to identify each element so as to identify what needs to change to fit your vision. And this is where this tutorial helps. Hi, I’m Les from Power Up Training, where I bring my decades of experience to you for free. If you have a spot learning requirement, look at this list of Chapter topics and jump to this specific time code. I’m working on the latest Windows Office 365. With the updated visual interface, these techniques will work with older versions of PowerPoint, going back as far as office 2013, and even farther back, it will work both on Windows and the Mac iOS. The first element is the chart object. But before we get into the details, I need to show you how to uncover the chart formatting pane on the right side of the screen. This is where you’re awake all the changes. Let’s get me out of the way. So we can see the full desktop. We do not see it yet. But there are three ways to make the chart management tool appear. The first technique is to get the context-aware menus to appear. If a chart is not selected, these menus are hidden. But once I click on the chart object, they appear, click off and they’re gone. Click on the chart and the two menus reappear. Now, to get the chart format menu to show up on the right side, I will click the Format context menu and the diagonal arrow next to the Shape Style groupings. And then Format Data Series pops up. Let me close it down and show the second method which will be much faster with the mouse. I will just double click a chart element and it pops up. I’ll close it down and demonstrate the fastest method with the keyboard. For this trick to work, you still must select the chart first and hold down the Ctrl key on Windows or Mac PC. And next hit the number one while holding down the control key. Now, we can get to work on dissecting all the parts of the pie chart. That chart object. The complete collection of graph elements is contained in the chart object, clicking an open spot near the chart and the collection is selected. Note that all of the call out boxes were added by me and are not part of the chart. They’re just illustrations. The selection of the chart object may seem obvious now still is important identify this part. Should we wish to enhance this area by adding a solid background color fill for the full chart area. Here I selected light blue. The plot area. Let’s compare and contrast the artistic change capabilities of only formatting the plot area. This time, I’m clicking on an open space right next to the chart. Warning clicking too far away and you’re gonna select the chart area when you really want to select the plot area. Take a closer look to see the inside of the selected square around the pie itself. With a chart title and legend outside of our selected plot area. Now, I can add a green fill for just the plot area. Look at how the fill is different from our larger chart object area that was blue compared to this plot area that is green. The chart title controls for the chart title are in the chart object, but they’re independent from the data. To update the contents of the title, just click to select the chart title and then click a second time to see the flashing insert cursor. Now just update the title is independent and not tied to any other element. See how I updated it by just typing in Pie Sales for April. And with the whole text box selected, I then use all the PowerPoint text formatting tools such as for example, color, and bolding and text size. And while not done here, as it looks strange. You can also add a Color Fill just for the chart title.

See this example of wildly ugly area shapes For the title for the plot area, and the chart object areas, all three independent items. The data. So what drives the proportion size of the pie elements is the hidden chart data table. While I’ll cover this in more detail in the follow up tutorial, all about creating a pie chart, we can access the data by clicking on the chart to select it, and then access the context aware menu of chart design, and then the Action menu icon of edit data. And up pops the data table. It looks very much like a baby Excel table, which we’ll explore in more depth in the companion tutorial. But for the time being, let’s just see how the changes here directly change the pie chart. In our presentation. I will edit the pecan entry by updating it to pecan pie. And after hitting the enter key that legend below also gets updated. The legend cannot be edited independently like the chart title, you must edit in the data table. And the same for the size and slice proportions. Changing the pecan nut pie sales from six to 123. The chart dynamically updates to show the increased sales in relation to the other pie slices. For the time being. Let’s close down the data table and move on to the legend. As I hinted, the individual labels can’t be edited here, or moved around as separate elements. The Edit must be done in the previously demonstrated data table. But we can control some of the elements of the legend, such as the location. And as we move the legend around, do note that PowerPoint is automatically resizing and repositioning the core plot area within the constraints of the chart area. The Data Series. We will be focusing on the collection of all the data series as a collection. This will be clear in a few moments. But first, let’s select the whole collection by clicking on the pie chart itself. Click just once. And you will see the small selector points at the edge of all the pie slices. Now, with the whole collection of the pie chart selected, we can start to spin the orientation of the chart. Watch how it moves clockwise when I change the angle to 45 degrees. And now if I use the slider control the angle degree and the chart will spin to any location. We can also split out the pie slices to separate them from each other. I can put it in a number or use the slider to explode them out. And you will see that we’re controlling every piece of the pie, which is why this is the collection of the data series. But if we want to impact just one slice, we need to work with individual data series, which is all about controlling a single slice of the pie chart. Select the full chart data series, see the selector circled indicators around the perimeter, and then click the data element you want to control. It should now show the selector circle indicators at the three points of the single pie slice. Now you can form it just like one data component, such as separate from the whole pie, plus a subtle menu item we’ve yet to explore. Note the three series options on the menu. One will control the data chart elements, the other impacts what appears to be the effects and the first one is all about fills and borders. Working with the fields we can select a specific color as opposed to the automatic color choices. And do look that when I choose red that the legend down below follows along and changes to the matching red indicator color. And that wraps up the five components of a pie chart.

Once you know the elements, you can take full control of your pie chart design to look for advanced pie chart design tutorials, or the companion anatomy of a line bar xy chart. subscribe and don’t miss out on tutorials like learning the differences between all have the PowerPoint charts and when to use each one in our PowerPoint masterclass series. So until next time, go power up.