How to Create a Sunburst Chart in Excel to Segment Hierarchical Data

AUTHOR:  JASON MORRELL 

Jason Morrell

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Excel offers 2 types of hierarchy chart, the Treemap and the Sunburst chart. The big advantage of Sunbursts over Treemaps is that they can work with any number of hierarchy levels.

This post demonstrates how to set up a good Sunburst chart.

First, here is an example of what a Sunburst chart looks like:

What a finished Sunburst Chart looks like

A Sunburst chart is made up of concentric circles, and each circle is segmented.

   -   The inner circle contains the top-level category, the meal type (breakfast or lunch).

   -   The next outer circle, breaks each meal type into food or beverage.

   -   The next outer circle breaks each food or beverage into hot or cold.

   -   The outer circle contains data at the bottom of the hierarchy,
       each food or drink item.

1. How to set up the data for a Sunburst chart

Consider this hotel restaurant data where every food or beverage is categorised. THis data has 4 hierarchy levels.

Create 4 columns of data, one for each hierarchical level. Ensure that there are no empty cells in your data range.  

Sunburst Chart

2. How to create a Sunburst chart

1.  Select a single cell in your data to allow Excel to select the entire range or select the headings and the specific data range you wish to use.

2.  Click the Insert tab.

3.  Select the Insert Hierarchy Chart icon in the Charts group and select Sunburst.

Sunburst Chart
  • Each circle represents one column in the source data, with the inner circle showing the top-level data in the first column and the outer circle showing the lowest level label from the penultimate column
  • Each segment is sized proportionately, based on the volume in the last column of the source data.
Sunburst Chart

3. How to restyle a Sunburst chart

It is always worth checking out the Chart Styles and Quick Layouts on the Chart Design ribbon for different pre-configured styles (which you can modify further is desired).

Sunburst Chart
Sunburst Chart

4. How to add data values as labels to the outer ring

1.  On the Chart Design ribbon click Add Chart Element. 

2.  Hover over Data Labels and click the little options-arrow then choose More Data Label Options.

2.  Tick the Value box.

5. What next?

Please feel free to post any questions you have into the comments below. And before you leave this page, I want to give you one quick little action item! 

ACTION ITEM: Comment below with ONE thing you picked up from this post and share how it has helped, or will help, you. It's good to share your successes because it encourages others and provides an instant boost.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

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About Jason Morrell

About the author

Jason Morrell


Jason loves to simplify the hard stuff, cut the fluff and share what actually works. Things that make a difference. Things that slash hours from your daily work tasks. He runs a software training business in Queensland, Australia, lives on the Gold Coast with his wife and 4 kids and often talks about himself in the third person!

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