How to Graph a Pie Chart When the Categories Overlap

Some graphs, such as this pie chart, are displayed in three dimensions.
••• pie graph image by Tomislav from

Graphs and charts show statistical information in a visual format. Graphs make it easy to compare data and process it quickly. You can make a bar graph to compare two or more amounts in relation to each other or a pie chart to compare parts to a whole. If categories overlap in a pie chart, you need to create a new category including both topics.

    Create a list of the items or categories you need to include on the pie chart. For an example, use expenses in a household of $575 for rent, $70 for electric, $45 for heat and $25 for water.

    Add all expenses together for a total of $715 in expenses for the month. Convert each number to a percent of the whole by dividing it by $715. Rent is 80.4 percent, electric is 9.8 percent, heat is 6.2 percent and water makes up 3.6 percent of your monthly expenses. Each section has a portion on the graph.

    Combine the two expenses you want to overlap into a single category, such as electric and heat. The new total is $115 and makes up 16 percent of the monthly expenses. The new graph eliminates two separate categories for heat and electric and links them together in a new category.


    • Not all graphs are ideal for all situations. You may be better suited to make a bar or line graph with the data. Experiment to see which type displays the data most effectively.

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