Leader lines for Excel doughnut charts

If a doughnut chart is just a pie chart with a hole in it, why then does it behave so differently from a pie chart, for example when it comes to creating and positioning chart labels. In a doughnut chart, you can’t just drag the chart label outside of the wedge to create a label with a leader line.

Can leader lines be added to doughnut charts?

Sure. But you’ll need to use a little trick.

Excel is sometimes a tad inconsistent. It’s easy to create a pie chart with data labels, pull the data labels away from the pie to create leader lines that link the labels with the wedges. No big deal.

Now, a doughnut chart is basically a pie chart with a white hole bitten into the center. But for some obscure reason that totally escapes me, it’s not possible to create leader lines in a doughnut chart. With a pie chart, you simply drag the data labels away from the chart a bit, and, voila! Leader lines. With a doughnut chart, you can drag the data labels all you want, but leader lines will not appear.

Ok, then. On to a little tricking. Let’s start with some sample data:

data for doghnug chart
data for doughnut chart

Step 1 – create the doughnut chart

First, let’s create a doughnut chart straight from the standards, delete the legend, change the wedge colors and add data labels for category and value. That will look something like this:

Step 1 - doughnut chart with data labels

Step 1 – doughnut chart with data labels

Step 2 -Add the same data series as a pie chart

Next, select the data again, categories and values. Copy the data, then click the chart and use the Paste Special command. Specify that the data is a new series and hit OK.

You will see the new data series as an outer ring on the doughnut chart. Click the new, outer ring and change the chart type to Pie chart. This new pie chart will sit on top of the doughnut chart, effectively obscuring it. But you can still see the data labels for the doughnut chart.

Step 2 - add the same data series as a pie chart
Step 2 – add the same data series as a pie chart

Step 3 – Add data labels for the pie chart

Select the pie chart and add data labels. They will be positioned outside of the pie. Click each data label and drag it a bit to see the leader lines appear.

Step 3 - Add data labels for the pie chart
Step 3 – Add data labels for the pie chart

Step 4 – Hide the pie chart

Now that the data labels and the leader lines are in place, we can hide the pie chart. Click the pie,  open the format dialog and set the borders and fill options to “none”. After that, the chart should look like this:

Step 4 - hide the pie chart
Step 4 – hide the pie chart

Step 5 – Delete the original doughnut chart data labels

One final finishing touch: Click the doughnut chart labels and hit the delete key. There: A doughnut chart with leader lines.

Step 5 - hide the doughnut chart labels
Step 5 – hide the doughnut chart labels

Now, that wasn’t so hard, right?. I wonder why Microsoft never got around to including leader lines for doughnut charts as well as pies.

For a taste of doughnuts and fruit, download the attached file (created with Excel 2003).

donut-chart-with-leader-lines.xls

3 comments

  1. Hi, I can seem to follow Step 2, I copy the data, click on the Chart and use Paste Special command and nothing happen. Could you please help me on what have I missed?

    Like

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