How to Make a Pie Chart

Written by ehow education editor
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An effective pie chart is easy to read and tells a story at a glance. To make one, you'll need your basic data set with numbers. For this illustration, the example data set will include 3 apples, 2 oranges and 1 banana. As you compose your pie chart, you can get creative with colors and patterns. An effective pie chart should be eye-catching as well as informative, and the colors should make it easy to pick up the data.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Compass
  • Protractor
  • Calculator

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Draw a circle by using a compass. Make sure the circle is large enough for you to divide into enough slices to accommodate all of your information. Mark the center of the circle.

  2. 2

    Add your numbers to get a denominator. Pie charts are based on fractions, which means you will have to work with numerators and denominators. The denominator for the example data is 6, the sum of 3 oranges + 2 apples + 1 banana.

  3. 3

    Divide each of the numbers in your data set by the denominator to get of fractions in which the circle will be divided. For this pie chart, form three sections: 3/6 or 1/2 of the circle for the oranges, 2/6 or 1/3 of the circle for the apples, and 1/6 for the banana.

  4. 4

    Use a calculator to convert the fractions to decimals. The set of decimals is 0.5, 0.333, and 0.167. Round repeating decimals to the same decimal place (such as hundredths or thousandths).

  5. 5

    Multiply the decimals by 360 (the number of degrees in a circle) to know how many degrees of the circle each piece will be (180 degrees, 120 degrees, and 60 degrees for this example). Round the degrees to the same place, and add them all up to make sure they equal 360.

  6. 6

    Use a protractor to measure the size of each angle and draw the radii on either size of the slice of the pie. Think about how you want to organize the pieces. Determine where you want the largest piece to be and how you want to orient the slices in relation to one another. Color each "slice" to differentiate one from another.

Tips and warnings

  • If your circle isn't large enough to contain the names and data in each slice, draw neat lines out from each slice and label them.

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