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If this is the case then you should stay clear of a pie chart as each segment is equal to its value then when totalled equal to the whole, so using negative values can be rather confusing. It is best practice to never have any more than 7 categories as it becomes harder for the eye to distinguish relativity of size between each section.

Drawing Pie Charts

If you want to learn how to easily make a pie chart with ChartBlocks then in our FAQ area we have a step by step guide of how to make charts? Start building charts now with our completely free and full-featured personal plan. Home Support FAQ. When to use a Pie Chart. It is important to consider the below points when choosing a pie chart to represent your data: How many data series do you need for your data?

A pie chart only really works well when you only have one set of data. Are you using any negative values? What values are you using? Useful for displaying data that is classified into nominal or ordinal categories. Generally used to show percentage or proportional data. Yeah… so pie charts have issues. So, do this :. Not this :. Like this :. Remember that example above, with the three pie charts showing changes over time?

Because even one pie is hard to read, lining up a row of them for people to compare makes things even worse. If you want to compare two sets of data like that, use a stacked bar chart like this:. They make some slices of the pie seem larger than others. This makes the chart even harder to read, and possibly downright deceptive. The angles are hard to measure, too.

When to use a Pie Chart

Before you swear off pie charts forever, know this: There is an exception to the no-pie chart rule. The data viz experts say so. You can have your pie at that time.


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For example, this is a reasonable use of a pie chart:. After pie charts, the next most common chart we see in business is the bar graph.

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Here are the worst offenders:. Fortunately, this is an easy fix.


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  2. Data Visualization 101: How to Make Better Pie Charts and Bar Graphs?
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Just switch the information on the axis so the long labels can be read horizontally. In both the vertical and horizontal examples, the bars that are longest are up top, and they descend orderly to the shortest bar. This lends a sense of visual consistency, but more importantly, it makes it much easier to understand how the measurements compare.

Three Little Kittens

It just distracts from the information. Keep the imagery of any data visualization as simple as humanly possible. You want the star of your information to be the information itself — not anything else. Those lines behind the bars on a bar graph? They should go.

So do this :. The clearer we can communicate our message, the more likely we are to be heard. These charts distill of a lot of information, but the simpler they appear, the more impactful they become. Got any additional advice for someone making pie charts or bar graphs?

Why you shouldn’t use pie charts - Tips for better data visualization

Leave a comment and share your thoughts. As logical, results-oriented business folk, we like to be data based. So, is this really such a big deal?