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What is the best way to size pies to represent their totals (sort of like a bubble chart)?

It is advantageous to size pies from time to time. The size of the pies can impart more visual information than simply putting "100% = xxx" at the top of the pie. If the pie is actually sized to "xxx," your audience will be able to assess the pies' relative values quickly. Its fairly easy to develop the pie sizing, although it is not a push-button operation:

  • Draw 1 perfect circle and make it 1" wide/1" high
  • Duplicate this 1" circle so you have one for each pie to be used on the slide
  • Size each circle according to the total number represented by the pie: format size dimensions as a decimal. For example, if the largest pie in this example represents a total of 20 and the smallest represents a total of 1, format the size of these circles as 0.20 and 0.01 respectively
  • Group all of the size-formatted circles
  • Enlarge and scale the group by holding the shift key down and dragging a corner handle on the group. The correct size of the scaled circles depends by how well they fit on the available space on the slide
  • Ungroup the circles and distribute them on the slide in whatever meaningful configuration tells your story (around a map, in place of bubbles on a bubble chart, next to corresponding text, etc.)
  • Create pie charts for each location (use pie charts in dd013 or dd012_v16 data-driven pie series as starting points)
  • Size pie to the sized circle and replace the circle with the pie chart
  • Create the leader fields with the polygon tool, color light gray or white, and make semitransparent
  • Create the legend.

See chart of the month for May 2007 for a good example of how these sized pies are used in a concept.

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