I am trying to make a pie graph that has both the data labels (e.g. 33%) and the series name (e.g. "apples"). Here is an example below.

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It seems this can only be accomplished through manually entering the data. This is easily done in Excel, so it seems like it's a missed opportunity if it can't be done in Illustrator.

Also, the problem with doing it manually is that I have 50 graphs to make. Is there any other way? Say using some kind of reference?

And lastly, if anyone has resources more broadly for data visualization in Illustrator, please share them! It seems like there are always features that are lacking between Excel, Mac Numbers and Illustrator when pulling them into InDesign. How do you make graphic-rich, data-driven, beautiful documents?

  • are you good with Indesign ? If yes I could demonstrate a answer for you which you can use excel sheets connected in indesign with your illustrated svg. Feb 25, 2016 at 5:09

3 Answers 3


The illustrator graph tool, while useful, hasn't been updated since the 1990s. Adobe simply don't care about it. Working with it is all about horrible clunky workarounds, unfortunately.

Maybe there's some trick I'm unaware of, but here's the best workaround I can think of:

  • In excel or similar, create a row or column next to your data that includes both lines of text separated by something unique. For example, "7%#Apples", where # is only used as a placeholder for line breaks. This could be a formula like =a2&"%#"&a1
  • Copy this row or column alongside the data into the crappy spreadsheet imitator in Illustrator
  • In Graph Type, make sure legend is set to "Legend in wedges"
  • Apply any styles etc

enter image description here

  • Copy your graph (so you still have a "live" graph off the artboard somewhere for new or ammended data), and make any copies for other graphs, as after this step we'll break the graphs into regular shapes
  • Ungroup the graph, and Edit > Find Replace, swapping the unique string like # from earlier with Forced line break from the special characters @ menu.

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  • Thank you! This is almost exactly what I ended up doing. First, the vertical pipe symbol | can be used as a newline character, so you can skip the find and replace step. Second, I made a bunch of concatenate functions in Excel so that all I had to do was enter the internal reference number in a cell, and it would VLOOKUP the correct data. Also, for the label "41 collisions," I used that as a text label in the left-most column. Once I got one graph all set up, I used cmd+shift+opt+v to paste in place into all artboards. I set up custom character styles and overwrote all 94 graphs. Aug 10, 2015 at 18:31
  • Nice! That sounds like an interesting technique, if you want you can add that as your own answer and it might be useful to others with the same problem Aug 10, 2015 at 20:59

The general process you could use is:

(1) Create a template in Illustrator that looks like the donut chart and has the labels you want, with placeholder text and graph. The hurdle is that Illustrator only has a pie chart, not a donut chart.

(2) For every text element, make sure it's in its own layer/ sublayer and has a unique name/id.

(3) Use Illustrator's "variables" feature to pull in the data you need for each of the 50 graphs. (You can copy/ paste from a spreadsheet, or use a script someone created, to pull in the data from a CSV file. Link below.)

(4) Install an Illustrator script available free (info in the YouTube video I've linked below)

(5) Create an Illustrator action to save each chart that you will create (50 of them).

(6) Run a free script (info in the video link below) to apply the action to each of your 50 charts. (Each will be saved to a different file.)

This is a really long video (nearly 1.5 hours), but it's the only one I've found so far that shows how you can auto-create a graph (bar graph) using this technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqmcjN-aQMk

Again, I'm not sure you can produce a donut chart out of this.

Alternately, Adobe does have a Web app, created in partnership with Georgia Tech, at http://data-illustrator.com/. It does not currently have a donut nor pie chart, but may in the future. It allows charts you create to be saved to SVG, which can then be pulled into Illustrator and customized. But it's not going to solve having to easily create 50 similar charts.


This is impossible to do. But there is a workaround. I have made a step-by-step tutorial to help answer it. It's available here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/0cu7r7fkj8ttlz2/Pie%20charts%20with%20labels%20in%20Illustrator.pdf?dl=0

  • 3
    nothing is impossible, graphic designers are Problem solvers :] Feb 25, 2016 at 5:10

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