Creating Doughnut Charts in Excel and PowerPoint

Professionals in the finance industry know data is everything. But with thousands upon thousands of data points to monitor, it can feel overwhelming to make sense of it all. That’s where data visualization comes in handy. Excel can make this process easy, but when exporting doughnut charts to PowerPoint or Word, there’s always a challenge. In this post, we’ll explore a few methods to help you export with high-resolution and linking.


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The doughnut chart remains one of the simplest yet effective ways to showcase part-to-whole relationships—making it well-suited for various financial applications.

In this extensive post, you’ll learn the ins and outs of doughnut charts, including:

Types of doughnut visualizations
Building doughnut charts in Excel & PowerPoint
Pro formatting tips
Exporting doughnut charts across Office programs
Real-world finance examples

Let’s dive in and uncover why more finance professionals should tap into the power of doughnuts!

Understanding the Basics of Doughnut Charts

At its core, a doughnut chart displays data as segmented circular “slices” representing different parts of a whole. The relative size of each slice conveys its proportional value. Any missing area within the ring itself highlights the gaps between summed components and the next closest benchmark.

For example, a doughnut chart could showcase four major cost centers that comprise total spending. The bigger the slice of pie, the greater the relative expenditure for that area. Any blank space slice of the doughnut would equal leftover funds yet to be allocated.

This chart form enables straightforward part-to-whole analysis at a quick glance. You can also showcase up to seven categories before a doughnut chart becomes too visually busy. They work best for simple breakdown comparisons rather than complex multifaceted data.

Common types of doughnut charts include:
• Standard doughnuts displaying a single data series
• Multi-layer doughnuts comparing up to twenty data series
• Split doughnuts with multiple data points plotted side-by-side
• Exploded doughnuts with detached slices

Now that we’ve covered the essence of doughnuts, let’s shift over to Excel to start building…

Creating Your First Doughnut Chart in Excel

Let’s walk step-by-step through constructing a doughnut visualization in Excel from scratch:

• Input your data into Excel arranged categorically with labels.
• Select your data range, including headers.
• Under the Insert tab, pick the “Doughnut Chart” recommended option.
• Refine the look through titles, data labels, fill color, etc.

Within a few minutes, you can create an informative, aesthetically pleasing doughnut chart without any complex configuration.

Yet that only begins tapping into the possibilities. Next, let’s examine how to take doughnut charting up a notch within Excel before linking it to PowerPoint presentations.

Enhancing Doughnut Charts in Excel

Remember at the start, we noted doughnuts can incorporate multiple data series for layered comparisons? Here’s a quick tutorial for building a stacked, split doughnut view in Excel:

• Structure your source data with distinct header rows for each series
• Select the full data range, including all headers, before inserting the chart
• Add a secondary vertical axis plus a data table for granular inspection
• Color code the data series through custom fill options

The resulting visualization will showcase distinct yet related data sets side-by-side or layered, allowing for multifaceted trend analysis.

You can take things further by adding complementary chart elements like data labels, percent indicators on the slices, or floating text boxes that share key takeaways. Just be careful not to clutter the doughnut by crowding it with too many auxiliary objects. Find the right balance to accentuate without overwhelming.

Creating Doughnut Charts Natively in PowerPoint

Up until now, we’ve focused on doughnut creation within Excel. But PowerPoint offers full native chart-building capabilities as well. Here’s an abridged tutorial for constructing doughnuts directly inside a PPT deck:

• Input category labels and data points onto a PowerPoint slide
• Select the chart icon, then the “Doughnut” template option
• Choose a prebuilt color scheme or custom-fill colors

As you can see, PowerPoint keeps chart creation straightforward. But Excel still provides more control, especially for multifaceted datasets.

Depending on your use case, you can decide whether to create directly in PowerPoint or to create in Excel and move over.

• Simple doughnuts with limited data points → Create directly in PPT
• Advanced multifaceted doughnuts → Build in Excel, then export over

Exporting Doughnut Charts into other Microsoft Office Applications

You’ve perfected your doughnut chart in Excel. Now it’s time to seamlessly integrate that standout visualization into other Microsoft Office applications like Word and PowerPoint. Along with an easy solution from Macabacus, we’ll show you how to achieve this in native Excel.

Export without Reformatting and Easily Update Charts with Macabacus

Macabacus automatically links the pasted chart to Excel. If you later modify the underlying Excel data, you can refresh the linked doughnut chart in PowerPoint/Word with the click of a button to reflect the new data.

1. Navigate to the Macabacus Ribbon in the toolbar.
2. Locate, “Quick Export”.
3. Select “Export Match None”.

That’s it! It gets exported as a chart. If you make changes in Excel, you can click “Refresh > Refresh all Shape and Text Links” in the Macabacus toolbar and your charts will update automatically.

Export from Excel into PowerPoint & Word

In Excel

• Select the chart or range you wish to link.
• Right-click and select “Copy” or press CTRL+C.

In PowerPoint

• On the slide where you want to insert the chart, click on the Home tab.
• Click the arrow under “Paste” and select “Paste Special”.
• In the dialog box that appears, select “Paste Link” and then “Microsoft Office Graphic Object”.

In Word

• On the page where you want to insert the chart, click on the Home tab.
• Click the arrow under “Paste” and select “Paste Special”.
• In the dialog box that appears, select “Paste Link” and then “Microsoft Office Graphic Object”.

Troubleshooting Common Doughnut Chart Problems in PowerPoint and Excel

When exporting doughnut charts from Excel to PowerPoint or Word, several common issues may arise. These can range from formatting inconsistencies to data misrepresentation. Here’s a quick guide to address some of these challenges:

Use Macabacus to Avoid Pitfalls

Macabacus can help you copy and paste while inheriting your defined styles. It can also help you manage links easily by refreshing all charts with the latest data.

Try Macabacus for Free

1. Distorted Dimensions on Export

Before exporting from PowerPoint or Excel, ensure the image aspect ratio is locked. This prevents the chart from getting stretched or squished, maintaining its original proportions.

2. Pixelated Appearance

When exporting, particularly into Word documents, verify that the maximum image resolution is set. Higher resolution settings help avoid pixelation, especially important for high-quality presentations and documents.

3. Text or Data Labels Missing

In cases where text or data labels don’t appear correctly after exporting, you might need to manually copy and then paste these label text boxes into the new file.

4. Blank Fills on Certain Slices

If you notice blank slices in your doughnut chart, it’s advisable to check back in Excel for any hidden data rows that might be causing this issue.

5. Direct Fixes in PowerPoint

Sometimes, it’s more efficient to correct overview errors directly in PowerPoint, rather than trying to identify the root issues within complex Excel data models.

6. Quick Delete and Recreate Strategy

If troubleshooting becomes too cumbersome, don’t hesitate to delete and then recreate the chart within PowerPoint. This can be a faster solution compared to extensive troubleshooting.

It’s also important to be aware of the limitations and advantages of linking methods when transferring charts from Excel to PowerPoint or Word. Native Office linking often faces issues like unreliable linking, undesirable output formatting, and bloated file sizes.

In contrast, linking with tools like Macabacus offers more reliable linking, controlled output formatting, smaller file sizes, version control, and more export options. This advanced linking ensures that the exported charts maintain their quality and are easier to manage and update.

Saving Doughnut Charts as High-Quality Images Directly from Excel

For Individual Charts

• First, select the chart in Excel that you want to save as an image.
• Right-click on the chart and choose “Save as Picture…” from the context menu.
• In the dialog box that appears, select your preferred location to save the file.
• Choose ‘PNG Portable Network Graphics Format’ from the ‘Save as type’ dropdown menu. This format is recommended for high-quality images.
• Click ‘Save’ to export your chart as a high-resolution PNG image.

For Multiple Doughnut Charts Using Macabacus

If you have several charts in Excel to save as images, using Macabacus can make the process more efficient.
• Begin by selecting all the charts you wish to export.
• Navigate to the Macabacus toolbar in Excel and click on the ‘Charts’ section.
• Select ‘Save Chart as Picture’ from the options available.
• Macabacus will export all the selected charts in a single operation.
• The exported charts are automatically named in a sequential manner, aiding in easy organization and retrieval. (if you save two charts as pictures and specify the file name “doughnut.png,” Macabacus will name your images ” doughnut_001.png” and ” doughnut_002.png”)

Try Macabacus to save multiple doughnut charts to PNG

Tips and Tricks for Making Compelling Doughnut Charts

Let’s shift gears to pro tips for elevating your doughnut charts beyond basic builds:

Lead with the Data Story

Prime the viewer on the core data narrative before detailing the visual design. Similar to constructing narratives, you want readers asking, “Why is this data important?” not “What am I looking at?”

Pick Meaningful Colors

We touched on smart color use previously. But take it further by matching fill shades to data categories. Blue for water. Green for environmental factors. You get the gist.

Compare Across Time Periods

Showcase trends by building comparable doughnut charts for different years, quarters, and months stacked horizontally. The side-by-side view enables straightforward time series analyses.

Keep Things Simple

Less is often more, especially with doughnuts. Prioritize the most essential data stories. Then, thin out ancillary accessories crowding key info.

Build Unexpected Comparisons

Creatively challenge perspectives about categorical relationships using unexpected yet insightful doughnut comparisons.

Inject Interactivity

Insert tabs to filter different data cuts or slide navigation to showcase doughnut chart dashboards for rich, interactive explorations.

The capabilities are expansive, but so are the pitfalls should best practices be ignored. So reference the guidance in this post as you continue leveling up your doughnut chart prowess in Excel and PowerPoint!

Knowing the Best Uses for Doughnut Charts in Finance

Doughnut charts shine when you need to visualize part-to-whole relationships or simple percentage breakdowns. In finance, common use cases include:

• Comparing expense or revenue categories
• Portfolio weighting and fund allocations
• Breakdown of market share or wallet share
• Regional or product line contributions

Essentially, anytime your data fits into neatly defined groups that sum to a whole (100%), consider using a doughnut visualization for quick at-a-glance analysis.

Doughnut charts also allow straightforward visual comparisons. For instance, you can contrast this year’s revenue mix to prior years or view how a portfolio allocation changes over time when placed side-by-side.

However, don’t try to overload your doughnuts. They work best highlighting less than seven categories. Too many slices will encumber understanding. I’d also advise against displaying negative values despite the capability. When leveraged thoughtfully, doughnuts strike an ideal balance between descriptive punch and quick comprehension crucial for finance.

So next time you wish to highlight portfolio diversification, regional impacts, or category breakdowns, turn towards the mighty doughnut. Just be cautious not to get carried away piling on complex optics detached from core data. Simplify yet accentuate.

Create Financial Models 10x Faster with Macabacus

Gain access to 100+ shortcuts, formula auditing visualizations, easy Excel-to-PowerPoint linking and productivity tools to help you accelerate financial modeling and presentations.

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