We’re going to take a look at how the Charts tool in Adobe Illustrator can help us create pie charts using dynamic data in Illustrator C6 – Illustrator CC. While Adobe is working on a new chart system, they are rolling out parts of it in phases and it is currently still in beta. The Illustrator Charts tool has remained unchanged for a while, but it can be very frustrating to use.

How Pie Chart Data is Structured

Pie charts in Illustrator have a label row area like many other charts. Labels go in the top row, data in all other rows. The important difference between it and the charts is each row of data generates a separate graph. Knowing this will save you a lot of time. pie-chart-simple-example

Adding Data to a Pie Chart in Data View

Let’s open up the Charts tool and see the data layout in action. I already have a pie chart created, but to make a new one just press down on the charts tool and choose “Pie Chart” from the list.

pie-chart-menu Pie chart showing the options menu in Illustrator

Right-click on the chart and choose data from the options list. The data screen for the chart will pop up. It look a lot like a mini Excel window.




Remember we sapie chart showing data viewid labels go in the top row and all the other rows that are data will generate a chart. Here we see I’ve created a very simple set of labels in the first row surrounded by quotation marks since they are text. I have labels turned off in the settings to keep things simple for now. The second row is the data of the chart itself. Notice the large orange area is 65 percent and the smaller area is 35 percent..

cell style and decimalsI can changed how many decimal places are shown by clicking the Cell Style button. This will bring up a new context window that lets me specify the number of decimals and the width of the columns. If I set the decimals to “0” digits, it will no longer display decimal places in the data view.


Creating Multiple Pie Charts from the Same Data View

multiple data rowsI don’t know about you but I am itching to try adding more data rows to see what will happen. Going back to data view, let’s create labels on the next row then data to go with those labels in the fourth row. Pie charts are structured so the data goes beneath its corresponding label. You can see here I’ve created a new set of labels and data in the same data view. After clicking the “Apply” button, another graph has been generated. It also shrank my first pie chart. Using the multiple chart series could come in handy for a dashboard look or a series, but this could be a pain if you need different size charts.


Interesting Results with Transpose

transpose in pie chartsOkay remember how I said that labels had to be on their own line, the top line above data? Well, that is not entirely accurate. When you transpose a pie chart with a typical data set up, what happens is the data layout is rearranged and the charts are set to sizes comparative to each other. This could be really useful if you are trying to compare two different charts, say dog ownership vs. cat ownership.


I hope you have enjoyed our dive into data for pie charts. We didn’t cover importing data, but that is a very straightforward process. We will cover it in another post about different ways to create charts for infographics.

What tricks do you wish you knew about charts in Illustrator? See you next time!