Pointless Pies

Loved by software vendors

I’d like to ban pie charts. I know it’s a bit over the top, but I honestly can’t see a single thing they do better than other graph type (like a 100% stacked bar). They are also hopeless at lots of other things, namely:

 

 

  • You can’t trend with them. Yes, you can put a few sad pies in a line, but you just don’t get the same instant understanding as a line chart or a bar chart. It’s very rare that we just look at one set of data, normally we are looking to see changes (or to inspire change).
  • They are really hard to read when some segments are much bigger than others, the smaller values get rapidly drowned by the line thickness.
  • You can’t put target points on them
I’ve noticed the software vendors seem to love them. I’m guessing that’s because you can make 3 random pieces of data occupy lots of screen space in a very colourful way.
Here’s the same data set as used in the pie chart above, but with the other 11 months of data added. It takes up little more space, is at least as easy to understand but has 12 times more data points to give trend insight:
Just don’t get me started on 3d pie charts…..

Boring but useful - lots of data on a bar chart.

Comments

  1. N Rushforth says:

    I agree with have a presentation guide which informs staff to not use them and why but they are still used.

Trackbacks

  1. First look – Qlickview 10, Data Visualisation Software — Made to Measure KPIs says:

    […] me biting lumps out of the carpet – but perhaps it’s just me (see this rant about pie charts for the background of my loathing). By the time I got to […]

  2. 9 Things you should never do in Excel — Made to Measure KPIs says:

    […] Pie charts. I’ve got a real problem with pie charts. For the full rant about why pie charts should not be used follow the link, but in short they are an inefficient use of space, don’t trend, can’t […]

  3. […] Pie charts. I’ve got a real problem with pie charts. For the full rant about why pie charts should not be used follow the link, but in short they are an inefficient use of space, don’t trend, can’t […]

  4. […] me biting lumps out of the carpet – but perhaps it’s just me (see this rant about pie chartsfor the background of my loathing). By the time I got to […]

Speak Your Mind

*