Skip main navigation

Why Not Pie Charts

I want to talk next about why bar graphs are better than pie charts. You maybe have seen or heard about pie charts. I love pie, but I do not love pie charts, and I want to show you why. This is a bar graph. It has a lot of great features. We can easily see the counts of each variable, and we can easily see how the group sizes compare to each other. If we have a large number of categories– in this data set, I have people identifying as female and male– but depending on the number of categories, I can just add more bars if I need. It is an easy, flexible, and highly adaptive graph. This is a pie chart.
A pie chart represents the same information, just less well. I can only see the relative sizes of the groups. If I try, I could try to represent the counts, but it’s kind of hard. I mean, I’d have to write some numbers on there somewhere. It’s just less easy to read. Also if I’ve got a number of small groups, they just become small slices of pie. And as anybody who likes pie knows, small slices are never the best. So in this case, it is just a less useful graph for representing the same information. And therefore, I will always advocate bar graphs over pie charts.
This article is from the free online

Essential Mathematics for Data Analysis in Microsoft Excel

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now