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: Negatives in Pie Charts.

Negatives in Pie Charts

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 23, 2016)

2

Excel allows you to easily create charts based on the data in a worksheet. If you create a pie chart, Excel charts negative values as if they were positive (in other words, it uses the absolute value). You may, however, prefer to have the negative values charted as if they were zero—to not have a slice of the pie.

Normally, people create pie charts based on a simple set of values. Each value within the series represents a portion of the whole. Thus, pie charts are often created based on the result of some sort of formula, such as the sum of values in a column; the sums of each column are the basis for the pie chart. Instead of using a standard SUM formula for the values to be charted, you could use a formula such as the following:

=IF(SUM(D7:D11)<0,0,SUM(D7:D11))

In this case, the value to be charted is set to zero if the sum is less than zero, or it reflects the actual total if the sum is zero or above.

If your data is conducive to filtering, you could also set up a filter so that negative values are filtered out. This will cause those values to be ignored in the chart created by Excel.

Of course, all this being said, one would have to wonder if a pie chart is the appropriate chart for representing this type of data in the first place. After all, pie charts represent portions of a whole—yet by filtering or adjusting totals, portions of the whole are being removed. Granted, they are negative portions, but they are portions nonetheless.

Pie charts, by their nature, are not well-suited for displaying negative numbers. If negative numbers are expected, then column or bar charts are a much more appropriate choice. Why? Because they can represent data that falls to the left of or below a baseline—as is appropriate for negative numbers.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3208) 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: Negatives in Pie Charts.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is three more than 1?

2018-05-24 18:43:19

Ruthie A. Ward

Instead of ignoring or filtering out the negative values, how about using a sub-pie to handle all the negative values? Perhaps a data table with indicators to highlight negative numbers in the data set could be used with a pie chart displaying only the positive slices? Maybe a separate pie for slices that are consistently negative? Or possibly invert the fill and border colors used on the single pie for those slices that are the absolute values of the negative numbers? Think creatively and re-think what it is you're trying to show with the negatives!


2017-01-26 10:47:28

Mackenzie <3

THIS REALLY ISN'T HELPFUL MY HOMEWORK IS DUE TOMMOROW AND I REALLY NEED HELP LIKE AN EXAMPLE etc: A PHOTO. PLEASE HELP :'(


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