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Exploded Pie Chart Sections

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Exploded Pie Chart Sections.

Gloria asked if there was a way, in a 3-D pie chart, to "explode" groups of slices, instead of individual slices. When you pick an exploded pie chart as your chart type, all the slices of the pie are "pushed back," away from the center of the pie. Gloria was looking for a way to have different slices grouped together in the view.

There is no way to group individual slices of the pie prior to exploding, nor does Excel provide a way to push selected slices together. There are, however, a couple of workarounds that can be tried.

The first approach is to make a chart for every grouping in your original data. Each chart is based on the entire original data table, but you set the colors for the group to be represented by the particular chart, and then make the other groups "invisible" by turning off their borders and colors. You can then overlay the charts to get the desired effect. This approach obviously would require some experimentation to get exactly the right look, but it is a great approach if the data that underlies the table will change periodically.

Another approach is to treat your pie chart as a drawing object. This gives you a great deal of flexibility, and is most appropriate for "one up" charts that won't be later changed. Follow these general steps:

  1. Create an exploded pie chart based on your data, formatting the chart as desired. (Each slice should be exploded.)
  2. Select the chart by clicking on it.
  3. Hold down the Shift key as you select the Edit menu. (This affects the choices shown in the menu.)
  4. Choose Copy Picture from the menu. Excel displays the Copy Picture dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Copy Picture dialog box.

  6. Make sure the As Shown When Printed option is selected, then click on OK. The picture is now on the Clipboard.
  7. Display a blank worksheet.
  8. Press Ctrl+V. The chart is now displayed as a picture in the worksheet.
  9. Right-click on the picture. Excel displays a Context menu for the image.
  10. Choose Grouping, then Ungroup. Excel asks if you want to convert the picture to a Microsoft Office drawing object.
  11. Click on Yes. The image is converted, and every item in the chart is now selected.
  12. Individually select and delete any items you don't want kept.
  13. Select and move the various parts of the pie chart, as desired. (Excel considers each panel of a 3-D slice to be an object. Thus, if you want to move a slice, you need to select the top and sides and move them together.)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2825) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Exploded Pie Chart Sections.

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