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Use of pie charts / bar charts

Why do newspapers and magazines use the pie chart so readily? What are the limitations of the pie chart. If pie charts are not the choice graphic for data to be displayed what would be recommended??? What kinds of data can be displayed with this other form of graphic?

If you do use a pie chart, what do you need to be aware of when using it? With pie charts or any other graphics, where do people get "in trouble"?

Solution Preview

Why use pie charts? Simply because it is very easy to read. According to this article, (, the average newspaper tries to write their articles at a middle school reading level. Why would they do this? They want to make sure that everyone who picks up the newspaper will be able to understand the story. If course, there are some more intellectual newspapers printed to satisfy "smarter" people, but really the goal is to make sure the general public understand your news story.

Now, why use pie charts? If the chart is simple (a simple "yes" "no" chart) anyone looking at it can understand easily the situation. If the question is "do you like pizza" and you can see a huge section of the chart is dedicated to yes, it is easy to understand. Plus, it is ...

Solution Summary

This posting examines the use of pie charts, explains its shortcomings, and explains how a bar chart can be used in some situations more efficiently.