Making a chart is so simple that even a chimpanzee can be trained to do it – press F11 and get the banana (that would explain the poor quality of many business charts and presentations – and the raising banana consumption).

To prove that they are better than chimpanzees at making charts, humans invented the eye-candy and its epitome, the glossy 3D pie. Some well-known data visualization experts believe they are poor and useless, nothing more than lipstick (on a pig?).

A don’t agree. A think they are rich and very informative: there is no better chart to tell us that the author hasn’t the slightest idea of what to do with the data. (I am sure there is a strong inverse correlation between 3D pie charts and scatter plots. The more you love one, the more you hate the other.)

This is not just another rant about 3D pie charts. It’s about charts in general, even the good ones. If your only data analysis / communication strategy is to pollute the air with yet another chart then you are fully immersed in the sissy world, and lipstick is all over the place. Charts can help reduce information overload, but chart overload is not better.

A chart is just one of several tools you can use to make sense of your data. You need text, and plain figures, and statistical measures, and tables and yes, some charts. The best results come from the right blend of all those tools.

How do you know if you are a sissy (chart-wise)? Here is a simple clue: if you know how to use and interpret a box-and-whisker plot then you’re on the right track (extra points if you can do it in Excel). If not, do yourself a favor and find a good entry-level statistics manual.