Statistics/Displaying Data/Comparative Pie Charts

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Comparative Pie Charts[edit]

A pie chart showing preference of colors by two groups.

The comparative pie charts are very difficult to read and compare if the ratio of the pie chart is not given.

Examine our example of color preference for two different groups. How much work does it take to see that the Blue preference for both groups is the same? First, we have to find blue on each pie, and then remember how many degrees it has. If we did not include the share for blue in the label, then we would probably be approximating the comparison. So, if we use multiple pie charts, we have to expect that comparisions between charts would only be approximate.

What is the most popular color in the left graph? Red. But note, that you have to look at all of the colors and read the label to see which it might be. Also, this author was kind when creating these two graphs because he used the same color for the same object. Imagine the confusion if one had made the most important color get Red in the right-hand chart?

If two shares of data should not be compared via the comparative pie chart, what kind of graph would be preferred? The stacked bar chart is probably the most appropriate for sharing of the total comparisons. Again, exact comparisons cannot be done with graphs and therefore a table may supplement the graph with detailed information.