Used sparingly you’ll get some clear insight over key metrics with these
Written by Hannah Dawson
Pie charts should be used to show relative proportions, or percentages of information. That’s it. Despite this narrow recommendation for when to use pies, they are all too often made with abandon. As a result, they are the most commonly mis-used chart type.
If you are trying to compare data, leave it to bars or stacked bars. Don’t try to translate pie wedges into relevant data or compare one pie to another. Key points from your data will be missed and you have to work too hard.
The most effective time to use pie/donut charts is to answer the following questions:
- Which survey results were the post popular? (using imported non-financial data)
- Where are you investing the most money?
- What revenue stream is the most successful?
Something to consider is limiting your pie/donut wedges to six. If you have more than six proportions to communicate, consider a bar chart. It becomes too hard to meaningfully interpret the pie pieces when the number of wedges gets too high.
Proportion charts can be very effective when used correctly, but incorrect usage will only yield ineffective results, while a bar chart may prove a more logical solution.