Beautifying The Pie Chart & Donut Chart in Tableau


A pie chart is a circle divided by the number of slices and proportional to the amount each slice represents. This allows specifying percentages, always assuming that the discs come together 100 percent. Although I swear by pie charts forever, I know there are exceptions to their rule. The pie chart is the most common yet strong tool to yield high-level insights.

Beautiful Charts of the Tableau Data Analyst Certification

There are few tips for our Tableau Wizards to learn about before we start on beautifying and creating the pie chart / donut chart on our dashboard!

Pie chart – Do’s & Don’t


  1. Always remember to convert the values into percentage format
  2. Sort the pie chart in Descending mode
  3. Do pick harmonious colors among all slices
  4. Do opt for a bar chart if you have more than 5 sections to be compared


  1. Do not use a pie chart with more than five sections, it will be looking messy.
  2. Do not leave the pie chart unlabeled with name and values

It is important to understand how can we visualize the pie chart to our clients or maybe ourselves because each detail would lead us to comprehend the insights easily. Pie chart might appear to be trivial but it is a profound tool in statistics, we have to utilize it wisely and accurately to brings out the beauty of a pie chart.

In Tableau, a pie chart could be selected at the “Show Me” Section, which is at the corner top right section. Upon selecting the pie chart, you are ought to have at least one Dimension and one Measure, to begin with. Furthermore, Tableau could easily customize the pie chart according to the client’s requirements as well as your design which makes Tableau a wonderful option to visualize data to convey good business insights.

Case Study

Sarah is an analyst and she works at an E-Commerce company. She needs to know which category of products is contributing to the most Sales to suggest the next business action to her manager which she chose to present with a Pie Chart / Donut Chart.  

Pie Chart in Tableau

Let me give a walk through on how to create and beautify a pie chart!

Step 1: Plot the Dimension & Measures to the respective section, in this case (Category & Sum)

Step 2: Hover to “Show Me” and select Pie Chart

Step 3: To resize the pie chart mouse over the surrounding of the pie chart and you will see “             “

              And drag it to enlarge or minimize. 

*Side:   Drag Dimension & Measure to “Label “, change the pie chart color with the help of Color Palette

Step 4:  Let’s not forget about the percentage label for each section.

Final Step:  Format the Sales by reducing the decimals. Sort the pie chart according to field values

Here we go, a complete pie chart in Tableau. 

Steps in creating a pie chart for newbies:
  1. Prepare the dimension and measure you would love to analyze through a pie chart. (e.g. Category (Dimension), Sales (Measures)) 
  1. Drag the Dimension and Measures to the respective section and select “Show Me” at the right top corner of the Tableau interface.
  1. Select “Pie Chart “and focus on the Marks box.
  1. Drag Category and Sales to “Label” Marks box.
  2. Drag Category to “Color” Marks box.
  3. Drag Sales to “Size” Marks box (If it is not already in the Marks box) 
  4. Click “Color”, Edit Color, and select the desired color scheme.
  1. Right-click on and select “Add Table Calculation”
  1. Select “Percent of Total” as calculation type
  1. Right-click on and select “Sort”  -> Sort By “Field” in Ascending order

There are several kinds of pie charts to work with but there is another popular chart that resembles a pie chart which is – The Donut Chart

Donut Chart in Tableau

Donut chart is bestowed by its name is because it resembles a donut shape. Beware, boys and girls, I am about to drop you a secret. After several interviews with companies that are hiring Tableau Developer, with a sample size of 10 interviewers 9 of them would test our donut chart skill!.

A donut chart is normally present with an image inside the circle. For example, if you are looking for Gender insights, you could search for Gender image online and apply in the center of the donut chart for appearance.

Icons for Donut chart

There are few sites where you can download for free but do remember to credit the Icon author! The best free icon sites are as below :


While at times, if we could not find a particular icon that we need or prefer to we do not give it in!  If the sites could not recommend the icon design that you love, you could Google the icon and find it at the “Image” Tab.

There are few reminders to take note of while downloading from Google. Do make sure the particular image has to have a transparent background whereby it could be applied on the dashboard in a cleaner and professional way. There are two ways to get a transparent background image which are:

  1. Google by adding the words “png”, (e.g. Gender Icons PNG / Gender Icon Transparent Background)
  2. Download whichever icon that you like where unfortunately is not a transparent background, you could use Photoshop or to do a tweak to the white background. (Applicable with knowledge of image editing)
How to differentiate a transparent background icon?

Usually, when you click on the icon image that you have selected (ANY), the icon image will show a grey and white diagonal background.

Companies often prefer a donut chart over a pie chart due to the modernized pie chart appearance. The next time when you are responsible to build a dashboard you could build a donut chart instead of a pie chart which depends very much on your needs and design.

 Anyway, let’s get started to build a Donut Chart!

Step 1: Follow the steps above to build a pie chart as a start

Step 2: Create a new calculated field ( “ Temp “) ->  Type ‘0’ -> Apply

The reason: By typing 0 it will create a blank field to create another identical pie chart. The concept of building a donut chart lies in here as it required 2 layers of the pie chart. The 2nd piece of the pie chart will be laying on the center of the pie chart by which it will be shown when the centerpiece (2nd piece is minimized or resized. 

Step 3: A “Temp” calculated field should appear at the Measure Panel at the Left. Drag the ‘Temp’ field to Rows Section twice.  The end of the action should result in 2 identical Pie charts below.

Step 4:  Right-click on the right ‘Temp” pill and select “Dual Axis” and it should result as below. 

What happened was the right “Temp” pill is aligned with the left “Temp” pill which results in a double-layered pie chart.

Step 5:  Remove the highlighted pills as below .

When the highlighted pills are removed , we could see the image of 2nd layer pie chart which is a grey circle . 

Step 6: After removing the pills, do select resize and minimize the size of the circle as you preferred and it will look like a donut shape as below. But , we are not finished!

Final Step: Select color and select any color that you prefer but, in this case, we would choose white and there you go! A donut chart.                     

Summary steps in creating Donut chart in Tableau

  1. Create a Pie chart.
  1. Create a new calculated field (“Temp “) -> Type ‘0’ -> Apply
  1. Drag “Temp” to the Row section twice and result in 2 pie charts.
  1. Right-click on the right ‘Temp” pill and select “Dual Axis”.
  1. At Marks box, remove the highlighted pills except for
  1. Resize the circle and change the color of the circle
  1. Touch up with removing the borders or resize as desired!

Pie chart and donut chart are both perfect for showing high-level insights to clients or the business itself. In Tableau, the charts are easily customized as Tableau has advanced settings in terms of fonts, sizing, spacings, colors, formats, etc. 

When we build a pie chart or a donut chart, the priority would be of course the accuracy of the data. Subsequently, you will need to crosscheck with a list: 

Key Takeaway

  1. Does the pie chart convey accurate figures?
  2. Does the pie chart distract the view of users due to designs?
  3. Does the pie chart create confusion for the users?
  4. Does the pie chart convey insightful insights such as using percentage labels?
  5. Does the pie chart have Legend / Label on it? (The label on the pie chart would ease the view of users.)

If the above are cross-checked, the pie chart/donut chart is good to go professionally. 

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