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What data can be presented using a pie chart?

  1. Pie charts are a visual way of displaying data that might otherwise be given in a small table.
  2. Pie charts are useful for displaying data that are classified into nominal or ordinal categories. Nominal data are categorised according to descriptive or qualitative information such as county of birth or type of pet owned. Ordinal data are similar but the different categories can also be ranked, for example in a survey people may be asked to say whether they classed something as very poor, poor, fair, good, very good.
  3. Pie charts are generally used to show percentage or proportional data and usually the percentage represented by each category is provided next to the corresponding slice of pie.
  4. Pie charts are good for displaying data for around 6 categories or fewer. When there are more categories it is difficult for the eye to distinguish between the relative sizes of the different sectors and so the chart becomes difficult to interpret.