What better time than Pi(e) Day to delve into the world of pie charts? Even though you're probably familiar with these circular graphs, are you creating and using them to their fullest advantage? Chances are, you're missing out on some easy wins in telling a story with your data—and here's why.
Let's start with the basics. Pie charts are designed to show how smaller parts represent proportions of a whole. In other words, this type of chart is ideal for showing how a group is broken down into smaller pieces.
When it comes to learning and development, pie graphs are great for:
- tracking compliance,
- showing popular content, or
- seeing how people answer an assessment question.
Ready to dish up some L&D Data?
The next time you're craving some pie, keep these pointers in mind:
- These charts work best for larger values (e.g. 20% or greater), as smaller percentages—or slices—may be difficult to distinguish.
- Pie graphs are meant to convey information in a simple, visual way, so limit charts to about five categories, or slices. Fewer slices means information will be easier to view and comprehend. And keep labels short so they’re easy to read. (TIP: When trying to show a large number of categories, try a bar chart.)
- Use colors that easily differentiate between slices. Your pallet should include colors that work well together, but be careful not use colors that are too distracting or similar in shade or hue.
- Remember, each part is separate from one another (i.e., there’s no overlap between categories), which means pie charts shouldn’t be used to compare one piece to another in the same chart. Rather, you should look at the chart as a whole.
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About the author
Brooks Alford is a tenured client success and operations leader who helps companies make innovative and complex technology accessible to all.
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