Steve Fenton

Continued pie chart hatred

You might have heard me mention that pie charts are bad and should never be used and you may have read my article explaining why you should never use pie charts. Well, every now and then a really good example pops up to illustrate exactly why you shouldn’t waste time on those little circular devils, and here is just such an example.

I won’t mention where I spotted it, but it was published by some people that really should know better. Just take a look at it and ask yourself these questions.

  1. Can I determine what each value may be?
  2. Can I determine how big each value is in relation to each other value?
  3. Should this be a bar chart?

Stupid Pie Chart

In particular, while many people will correctly identify the first block (12 o’clock to around 5 o’clock) as the largest, it is incredibly difficult to tell the sizes of the next two blocks – and they are so similar in size, it is difficult to determine their relative worth in respect of each other. It isn’t even that easy to compare one of the small blocks to the larger block.

There are only three simple values in this chart, so it should actually be really easy to compare them, so maybe the next time you want to compare a couple of simple values, you’ll use something like a bar chart to do it.

Written by Steve Fenton on