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Create Graph – Pie chart visualization guide

After the bar chart visualization guide we continue with one of the most common chart. Pie charts are widely used in everyday statistics, in the business world or in education. In this article we will give you some tips about pie chart visualization, even though we recommend you (if it is possible) to use other charts. In case there is no other way to visualize your data this article will be a good guide for you.

What is pie chart?

Wikipiedia: “Pie chart (or a circle chart) is a circular statistical graphic, which is divide into slices to illustrate numerical proportion. In a pie chart, the arc length of each slice (and consequently its central angle and area), is proportional to the quantity it represents. While it is named for its resemblance to a pie which has been sliced, there are variations on the way it can be presented. The earliest known pie chart is generally credited to William Playfair’s Statistical Breviary of 1801”

“A table is nearly always better than a dumb pie chart; the only worse design than a pie chart is several of them…”  Tufte, The Visual Display of quantitative information

5 common mistakes 

Pie chart and Donut

Pie chart mostly used to compare part-to-whole relationships, in case of discret or linear data. We recommend you to use it with low amount of slices. Beside pie chart donut chart is also a common used circle visualization method.

The biggest disadvantage of pie chart is that human eyes can only recognize friendly rates like 25%-50%-75% or 100%. To read more, check our previous article about circle visualization: https://www.answerminer.com/blog/mystery-circle-visualization/

PIe chart viz

Standard: Used for describing whole-part relationship

Donut chart viz

Donut: It can contain additioinal information or style elements

Pie chart guide

Below you can read 4 tips about how to create pie charts.

dont-use-for-comparing

1. Don’t use for comparing. Instead of pie chart use stacked bar chart.

max-5-categorie Pie chart
2. Use only two or three categories on one pie chart, but maximum five.

use-100% pie chart
3. The total value on the pie chart has to be 100%.

Order starts with the biggest1
4. Order slices by starting with the largest part.
Source: http://www.slideshare.net/Visage/data-visualization-101-how-to-design-chartsandgraphs

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages:

  • Popular and easy to understand (In case of 2 or 3 categories)
  • Indicates a part-to-whole relationship between values
  • Looks nice

Disadvantages:

  • Angles are difficult to estimate
  • Difficult to compare quantities
  • We can’t visualize complex relationships
  • Valid for one point in time only

In the end here is a short guide how to create perfect pie chart.

PIe chart to bar chart

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