Difference Between Pie Chart and Donut Chart in Power BI

When visualizing part-to-whole relationships in data, pie charts and donut charts are two of the most commonly used charts in Power BI. Both charts are similar in that they display the relative sizes of data points as a proportion of a whole, but they have distinct differences that can make one more suitable than the other depending on the context. In this Power BI tutorial, we’ll explore the difference between a pie chart and a donut chart in Power BI in detail to help even beginners understand when to use a pie chart versus a donut chart in Power BI.

What is a Pie Chart in Power BI?

A pie chart in Power BI is a circular statistical graphic divided into slices to illustrate numerical proportions. Each slice corresponds to a category in the dataset and its size is proportional to the quantity it represents as a part of the total. Pie charts are most effective when you want to compare parts of a series to the whole; they are not intended for comparing individual sections to each other.

What is a Donut Chart in Power BI?

A donut chart in Power BI, also known as a doughnut chart, functions similarly to a pie chart. It also represents the proportions of a whole but with a central hole that gives it the appearance of a donut. This central space can be used to display additional information, such as the total value of the data. Donut charts can contain multiple data series, one of the key differences from pie charts.

Key Differences Between Pie Chart and Donut Chart in Power BI

Visual Distinction

The most obvious difference between these two charts is the central hole in the donut chart. This not only gives the chart a different appearance but can also aid in readability. The central hole of the donut chart can help viewers to focus on the proportions of each category more clearly than in a pie chart.

Data Representation

Both pie and donut charts are used to show the proportions of categorical data, but a donut chart can contain multiple data series, unlike the pie chart. This means you can show more than one dataset in a donut chart, which can be particularly useful for comparing similar data sets side by side.

Use of Space

The donut chart’s central hole can also be used to display additional information or data labels. This can be particularly useful for including a total value or some other key piece of information without cluttering the chart.


Some argue that donut charts improve readability because the eye finds it easier to compare the length of the arcs rather than the size of the slices, as in pie charts. However, this can vary depending on the viewer’s preference and the specific data being represented.

When to Use Pie Chart in Power BI

Pie charts are ideal when you have a limited number of categories to display and when each category constitutes a significant percentage of the whole. They are most effective when:

  • You want to emphasize a significant segment.
  • The data represents parts of a whole.
  • You have less than five categories to display.

When to Use Donut Chart in Power BI

Power BI Donut charts are more versatile than pie charts and are useful when:

  • You want to compare multiple data series.
  • You have more than five categories, as the separation between slices can be clearer.
  • You wish to display additional information in the chart’s center.

Best Practices for Using Power BI Pie and Donut Charts

While Power BI pie and donut charts can be visually appealing, they also have limitations. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Limit the number of slices to make the chart easy to read.
  • Use contrasting colors to differentiate between categories.
  • Avoid using these charts if the differences between slices are minimal.
  • Consider other types of charts, such as bar or column charts, if your data has many categories or if it’s important to compare individual parts to each other.

Difference Between Pie Chart and Donut Chart in Power BI

Below is a summary table that highlights the key differences between pie charts and donut charts in Power BI:

FeaturePie ChartDonut Chart
ShapeCircular without a central holeCircular with a central hole
Data SeriesBest suited for a single data seriesCan accommodate multiple data series
Central SpaceNo central space for additional informationCentral hole can display additional information or labels
ReadabilityCan be less clear with many small slicesMay enhance readability with clearer separation of slices
Category LimitIdeal for fewer categories (typically less than 5)Can handle more categories effectively
ComparisonGood for comparing parts of a wholeBetter for side-by-side comparison of similar datasets
Use CaseEmphasizing a significant segment within a single seriesComparing proportions across multiple series
Visual FocusFocuses on the size of pie slicesFocuses on the length of arcs around the donut

This table should is a quick reference to understand when and why you might choose one chart type over the other in Power BI.

difference between pie chart and donut chart in power bi


Both pie and donut charts have their place in data visualization within Power BI. The key to using them effectively lies in understanding their differences and knowing when one might serve your needs better than the other.

In this Power BI tutorial, I have explained what are the differences between a Pie Chart and a Donut Chart in Power BI.

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