A donut chart, also known as ring chart, is a special kind of pie chart, that is located in the Excel drop down menu options for pie charts. The donut chart is perfectly suited to visualize data when a single number is important as part of a whole. Preferably the donut chart should show only two numbers in total in order to create a clear message and to communicate the data as effective as possible.

How to create a donut chart in Excel step by step

  1. Create the table with your data in the form, that all values add up to 100%.
  2. Use color strategically to emphasis the message of your chart. To do this, change the color of the less relevant data to grey and the color of the important number to a bright paint (an action color as Stephanie Evergreen from author of Effective Data Visualization calls it). Therewith, the important color will receive the instant attention of the eye.
  3. Decrease the size of the hole in the donut chart to bring even more emphasis on the data. Click on the chart area, then right click and chose format data series. Next you may change the ring size to 25% (default settings is 50%) in order to make the ring biggr.
  4. Delete the legend and write your legend data in a text box in the graph instead.

As a result you may get a crispy and clear donut chart such as the following.

How to create a donut chart (ring chart) in Excel

Example of a donut chart (ring chart) that highlights one number, source inbox-zero.de


Please feel free to leave a comment below, if you have any remarks on how to further improve this kind of visualization. We look forward to hearing from you. When you have more than one reference point to compare your number to, a bar chart is usually more appropriate than a donut chart to visualize your data. If you like to learn more than 70 concepts of effective charr design, you may be interested in our regular workshops. Find out more about our presentation design seminar that we offer in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt and other German and European cities, as well as upon request also as an inhouse training.