Sunburst Chart

Creating sunburst chart will be this year one of the most exciting innovation of the Office 2016. In today’s article we will show all the advantages of this very useful application. Before we start we have to note that been waiting for years to get a well usable kind of chart instead of the comparatively poor supply.

We have had our wish fulfilled now, let’s see what is a sunburst chart is good for!

Sunburst Chart and Hierarchy visualizations

All right! Let’s start with the basics! What can we consider hierarchical data visualization? On the picture below we see a bookstore yearly income in a form of a chart. This will compose the bases of the sunburst chart. 

We have placed the type of books in such order that we have divided the particular main categories (for example Tutorials, Children’s Books) into subcategories so that after creating the chart we will not only see how large percentage the category “Tutorials” represents, but also its subcategories.


In our example we will pay attention to the division of the children’s books. We can see from the chart that the income from these types of books were ($16000 + $ 12000 + $ 8900 + $ 14046 + $ 12000) = altogether $ 63038.

Creating Sunburst Chart – Data Visualization


Let’s take a look at the chart on this picture. In the innermost ring we marked with light blue color all the income from children’s books.

From the chart containing only the raw data we could not have seen right away the fact that children’s books take up one third of all the income. Amongst other things this is one of the advantages of the data visualization.

The second ring is the subcategory level. Within the category of children’s books the “Baby books” was the most profitable (we know this because this has the biggest area). Sales within the category can be seen on the outer ring (if it is applicable).

You can analyze the whole chart following this logic. If you examine the dark green slice “Tutorials” on the innermost ring the “How to?” category had the most sales based on the former logic. And within that category the Photoshop teaching related books had the most sales in the given time period.

We hope that this much help was enough, so from now on you can use this type of chart with ease.

Limitations of the Sunburst Chart

We can’t clearly decide that the following news is good or bad. This answer can be only found in the 2016 version of Excel. If we try to open the just now made demonstration with an earlier Excel we get an error massage.

This could pose a problem for those (in our opinion most of the users) who do not have the newest Office edition. We have to note that there are tricks by which we can create with the older Excel versions very similar representation.

In the next article we will introduce these alternatives. If you have the newest Office, you can creating sunburst chart. Download the worksheet here.