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3 Pie Chart Alternatives Guaranteed to Capture Attention Better

Do You Need Better Alternatives to Pie Charts That Promise to Grab Attention?

Do you find yourself using a lot of pie charts to create visuals for your business? Why not, right?!

Pie charts are easy to make and can give viewers a quick summary of your data as a whole. Just a few clicks and you’re done- on to the next chart.

Have you sat in on a meeting where they used pie charts a lot? (I mean A LOT?)

Most of us look at pie charts and get bored almost immediately.

Your attention span drops. If you’re lucky, you might remember how much pie was actually in the pie chart.

Yummm, Pie!

Here are some alternative charts that can provide a STRONGER visual impact in your next presentation.

And that’s a promise.

Alternative #1 – The Stacked Bar Chart

The first alternative to the pie chart is the stacked bar chart.

Stacked bar charts are a much better choice if you have more than 3 variables of data that need to display as a whole. A pie chart works best with two to three variables.

The stacked bar chart can help the viewer see differences based on size relative in a linear display.

And come on, they just look cooler, am I right?!

This example on the right looks kind of like I took seven different pie charts and ironed them flat for a side-by-side comparison.

So much info, and only one chart was needed. *BOOM*

(Image from Tableau Training Data Set)

Alternative #2 – The Tree Map Chart

Let’s go one step further. 

I absolutely LOVE a good treemap display. (Watch out, the data nerd in me is taking over!)

There’s two main reasons I recommend using treemaps.

First, and most importantly (depending on who you ask), you can use a treemap as an independent PowerPoint slide- and it will actually look good!

Need to stretch out a presentation? Treemap.

Not sure how to break up 5 slides of text? Treemap.

*Enter any presentation problem here* Treemap.

Secondly, a treemap can display your data side-by-side to showcase the relativity of size in the different variables.

That makes the treemap a great choice if you have more than 5 variables.

Instead of staring at those tiny little slices in a pie chart, you allow the viewer to see the whole picture more clearly.

Alternative #3 – The Packed Bubble Chart

If you don’t like squares, then this third type of chart is for you!

The packed bubble chart works great if you want to showcase data by size, without the same old, same old, lame old squares. 

Kids love bubbles, and so will your colleagues. Let’s live a little, huh?

This type of chart resembles a scatter plot chart, but with more design flair.

Or if you’re feeling especially dangerous, you can even used bubble charts in conjunction with the scatter plot. *GASP*

In the example above, you can see this office supply company’s sales by catergory, in a quick, easy to understand format. Phones are clearly their biggest seller, followed by chairs and storage equipment. 

Chart Making Tools

If you are looking for great tools on how to make these charts, I would recommend Tableau.

Tableau is a powerful tool focused on presenting data.

It is free to download from their website, and is extremely user friendly.

Tableau provides clean, easy to use images that will make you look like a master PowerPoint Slide maker.

There’s also Google Data Studio, which has a lot of useful chart-making tools, but is not as easy to use, so if you’re not a data visual pro, I still recommend using Tableau. 

Lastly, you can always use Microsoft’s PowerBI, which works seamlessly with Excel and PowerPoint. They have a free version, but their paid version is always better. 

So there you have it, folks, 3 awesome alternatives to that boring, overused pie chart:

Stacked bar chart

Tree map

Packed bubble chart

These alternative chart styles will help you spice up your presentations, while still giving your data the representation needed for your viewers to understand what they’re looking at.

Making these charts is just as easy as making that moldy old pie chart that everyone loves to hate.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our other helpful work+life articles, case studies and how-to’s to optimize your business and life!

1 Comment

  1. Jules

    The bubble chart seems most visually appealing, with the stacked chart following — in my opinion. Thanks for posting.

    Reply

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