Stock return charts
Random as doublespeak

Donuts and pies: which tastes worse?

I have never come across a situation that calls for a pie chart.  The human mind thinks linearly: we can compare lengths of line segments but when it comes to angles most of us can't judge them well.

The donut chart is a pie chart with a hole punched in the middle.  Alas, the missing middle contains the angles that help us size up the slices.  The donut chart is a useless chart made worse. 
Never ever use a donut chart.

Each publication gravitates to certain "pet" charts: the Economist happens to like donut charts.  Hopefully their editors will read this and stop using them.  Here is a recent example:Redoeconomistpop_7


We might as well point out three additional crimes: firstly, having one donut as a mirror image of the other denies us any chance of comparing like-colored slices properly; secondly, the lines linking labels to slices positively make us dizzy; finally, the least important detail, i.e. the total population size, stares us in the eye.

Reference: "The Americano Dream", The Economist, July 14, 2005

Comments

Andy

On your opion of donut charts:
Everyone, including you, is free to expouse their own stupid opinion.

Zach

Right on. I was thinking of writing a post on this, but I'm not sure what I would add. And to the comment from Andy with the misspellings: if you are going to have an opinion, at least make an argument.

Ken

My vote is for a table, but any graphic will work better than the donuts.

Andy is obviously a graphic designer. If someone is going to use uncommon words then it is a good idea to check the spelling.

Arvind

And what about the underlined text "donut chart" or the blue text "Never ever use a donut chart", neither of which are links. I humbly add never ever make anything look like a link when it's not a link. Pie's have their place when used appropriately, especially as a matrix of pies for comparison. It would be easier to visually compare a grid of pies than a grid of bars or lines.

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