How to Make Your Pie Chart Worse


Leo Sadovy, Performance Management Marketing, SAS

Leo Sadovy handles marketing for Performance Management at SAS, which includes the areas of budgeting, planning and forecasting, activity-based management, strategy management, and workforce analytics. He advocates for SAS’s best-in-class analytics capability into the offices of finance across all industry sectors. Before joining SAS, he spent seven years as Vice President of Finance for Business Operations for a North American division of Fujitsu, managing a team focused on commercial operations, customer and alliance partnerships, strategic planning, process management, and continuous improvement. During his 13-year tenure at Fujitsu, he developed and implemented the ROI model and processes used in all internal investment decisions, and also held senior management positions in finance and marketing.

Prior to Fujitsu, Sadovy was with Digital Equipment Corp. for eight years in sales and financial management. He started his management career in laser optics fabrication for Spectra-Physics and later moved into a finance position at the General Dynamics F-16 fighter plant in Fort Worth, Texas. He has an MBA in Finance and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing. He and his wife Ellen live in North Carolina with their three college-age children, and among his unique life experiences he can count a run for US Congress and two singing performances at Carnegie Hall.

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Europe wins
  • 2/16/2017 10:42:08 PM
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..

In the race to create the most indecipherable charts/graphs, probably European analysts should claim the prize. I have spent untold cumulative hours staring at European graphs of stuff, trying to figure out what they are trying to convey. Here's just one example ...

 ..

Re: Simple is good
  • 2/15/2017 10:21:38 AM
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Yes keeping it simple is definitely good. I wonder too about how to makee a chart memorable, that is, could it be constructed so that the viewer will "remember" that visual and of course get the numbers illustrated in a real way.

Re: Another
  • 2/13/2017 9:32:26 AM
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@James: Well, yes, there's that too.  Of course, sometimes there's no accounting for taste--or readability.

There is a Polish board game called Kolejka (English translation: Queue) that has red, green, and brown pieces and cards (along with other colors).  Cards of those particular colors are further distinguished with symbols as a matter of accessibility, so people don't mix them up.

Re: Another
  • 2/10/2017 1:29:58 PM
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@Joe. Even if you aren't color blind, the red on brown, brown on green, etc., color combos are plain ugly. Guaranteed to put people to sleep in meetings.

Re: Another
  • 2/10/2017 8:40:17 AM
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...and then take a cue from the American Petroleum Institute's Super Bowl ad and use white, unbordered font on light-colored slices (e.g., yellow, baby blue).  Bonus points for using red on brown slices, brown on green slices, etc. (to further confuse the partly color-blind).

Re: Another
  • 2/9/2017 3:52:49 PM
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Do this and then scale it so the slices are tiny.

Another
  • 2/9/2017 8:38:13 AM
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Another way to make pie charts worse: Use color choice to make them more confusing and less accessible for partially color-blind audiences -- e.g., put your crimson slice, your brown slice, and your dark heather green slice next to each other.

Simple is good
  • 2/7/2017 12:52:52 PM
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Useful post, Leo... lots of good advice for how to add visual value with data presentations. As your SAS colleague Robert Allison frequently reminds us as well, simple is good.

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