Happy Pi Day 2014!

Mar 14, 2014

Today – March 14, or 3.14 – is Pi Day, a day celebrated by mathematics aficionados the world over. I shudder to think of the partying that will break loose in two years, when the date is 3.14.16. Hide the women and children!

No blog about presenting numbers would be complete without a brief Pi Day observance and, at least in my case, taking a few shots at that nemesis of sound quantation practitioners everywhere: the pie chart. Rather than going on at length about the evils of pie charts, I will simply refer you to a terrific post I just read, by Xan Gregg. Not only does he remind us of what’s wrong with pie charts, he actually makes suggestions about how to fix the problem at sites like Wikipedia. Read it. And if you’re really interested, follow the #OneLessPie hashtag on Twitter.

From my perspective, using a pie chart is the sort of presentation mistake that will cause some in your audience to question your intelligence or your competence. Sort of like not knowing when you should put an apostrophe in the word “its” (uhh, “it’s”), or consistently mispronouncing the names of people you’re speaking with.

Lastly, in the interest of fairness to pie charts, I’ll point you to a couple of my posts on the subject:

Happy Pi Day!

“Painting with Numbers” is my effort to get people to focus on making numbers understandable. I welcome your feedback and your favorite examples. Follow me on twitter at @RandallBolten.

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