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5 Ways to Get Pie Charts into InDesign

In an analytical world, pie charts can help
to serve up your data in a tasty way.

This article appeared in Issue 85 of InDesign Magazine.

Everyone likes pie (charts), right? Pie charts are one of the most common methods of visually representing data. Not only are they visually pleasing, but they help readers to easily understand the information in a logical, intuitive way.

InDesign doesn’t natively contain a tool you can use to create pie charts directly. That doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck, though. When it comes to creating pie charts in InDesign, I’ve seen a number of different approaches, and I’d like to show you five different ways that you can get pie charts into an InDesign document, each with their own benefits and downfalls depending on your workflow.

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Chad Chelius is a trainer, author, consultant, and speaker residing in the Philadelphia area. He’s been using Adobe products for over 25 years and began his career in the design and publishing industry. As an Adobe Certified Instructor and a consultant, he teaches and advises on all Adobe print and web products, specializing in InDesign and InCopy workflows, Illustrator, and PDF accessibility using Adobe Acrobat. He works with clients both large and small, in and outside the United States, helping them to solve problems, work smarter, and more efficiently using Adobe products.
  • Mr. Serge says:

    In general best option is not to use pie charts at all.

  • Curious … why do you say no pie charts …?

  • gagood says:

    Pie charts are poor representations of data. They are often used to obscure rather than clarify.

    The data in pie charts is represented in areas (the pie wedges), as opposed to length (such as in bar charts, column charts, and even line graphs). It is much harder for the human mind to determine small differences in areas than small differences in lengths. In pie charts with similar size wedges the wedges often have to be labeled with the percentages for you to be able to tell the difference in their sizes. Anything smaller than 15-degrees is extremely hard to differentiate. (Perhaps that’s why the numbers on analog clocks are at 15-degree increments.)

    Pie charts are pretty, but do an awful job of displaying data. I tell students to only use pie charts for one of three reasons:

    1. Your boss (or teacher/professor) requires you to use pie charts.
    2. You want a pretty graphic and don’t care about the data.
    3. You want to obscure the data.

  • Serge Paulus says:

    What about working in Deltagraph and exporting in eps – small correction needed in Illustrator? Deltagraph is the real pro solution. I’ve made thousands of graphs of any kind in that software (poor me).

  • Serge Paulus says:

    By the way, thanks to Chad for those quick solutions I didn’t know !

  • ohmmm says:

    If you have excel why use bizzarre solutions ? Excel have everything what y need – just import to indesign – pice of cake.

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