The lighter side of pie charts and bar charts

Stephen Few is famous for railing against the frequent overuse of pie charts. Overall, we agree with Stephen, pie charts are frequently misused when other chart types would likely be a superior choice for exploring and understanding the data at hand.

In our training classes we sometimes ask students why they (or their boss) prefer pie charts. The answer is typically "because". That's about it. They have often given little thought as to why this is their favored choice, but all the standard applications make them easy to generate and "expected" by their managers.

Eileen has pondered if the fascination with pie charts started during our childhoods. Particularly with our childhood love of pizza and dessert pies. Children often debate which piece of pie is "theirs". As a result, it is only natural as adults to assume that we can accurately judge pie slices and compare amongst them.

In this brief review, I will propose alternatives to bar charts that just might nudge pie lovers back to the bar side. Enjoy this fun but low-cal review of pie and bar charts!

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