How to calculate a pie chart

Written by isaiah david
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A pie chart is a visual way to represent information. Although you can use fractions or percentages alone to represent the same data, many people find that having a picture makes it easier to see proportions. The best thing about a pie chart is that it can work for both visual and text-oriented people. The individual slices can each have their percentage value included, along with the picture.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Compass
  • Protractor
  • Calculator
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Stencil

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  1. 1

    Add up the total from all the data you are collecting. For example, if you're making a pie chart of the number of students in school by grade, you would add up the freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors to get the total number of students.

  2. 2

    Divide each component by the total sum. For example, if there are 250 freshmen out of a student population of 750, divide 250 by 750 to get 0.333. Record all the totals to at least the thousandths place.

  3. 3

    Multiply the decimals from step 3 by 360° degrees to get the number of degrees of each pies slice. Round the number to the nearest degree. For example, 0.333 x 360 = 120, so the freshman slice in the pie chart takes up 120° degrees.

  4. 4

    Draw a circle. You can use a stencil, or retrace one with a compass. Put a dot in the exact middle of the circle.

  5. 5

    Draw one straight line from the centre to one of the edges of the circle.

  6. 6

    Measure out the first slice of the pie with a protractor. For example, for the freshman slice you would measure 120° degrees from the first line and put a dot on the outside of the circle at the point corresponding to that angle.

  7. 7

    Draw a second line from the centre of the circle at the angle you just measured. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until the whole circle is divided up and all the slices are represented.

  8. 8

    Label each slice of the circle. Put in what it represents and the percentage. To get a percentage, multiply the decimal from step 3 by 100. In our example, you would label the first slice of the pie as "Freshman, 33.3%".

Tips and warnings

  • Because of rounding, your percentages might not add up exactly to 100. This is normal in pie charts.

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