Pie chart ggplot style is a bad memory for me. I had made pie charts using base R, and it had been no big deal. I also had made time series and other plots with ggplot2, and it was no problem. But when I went to make a pie chart ggplot style for the first time, I found it very confusing!
The situation was my colleague and I had done some research into different types of deeper learning strategies in higher education, and one of them is to have students create types of media. We wanted to have a pie chart displaying the distribution of the types of media that were created in the studies of deeper learning we reviewed. Here are our data:
Pie Chart ggplot Style was Much Harder than Base R
As you can imagine, this was supposed to be a very simple project! But it was not. I posted the code on Github for you here. I will show you how I went through it.
First I read in the dataframe I had made from the estimates in the table, and loaded the ggplot2 library.
piechart_df <- readRDS("piechart_df.rds") library(ggplot2)
If you run piechart_df to look at it, you will see this:
Proportion Type 1 0.22222222 Blog 2 0.11111111 Digital Storytelling 3 0.11111111 ePortfolio 4 0.05555556 Podcast 5 0.50000000 Video
As you can see, the data are represented in terms of proportions. I also wanted to have customized colors, so I made this color vector called pie_colors to refer to later in my ggplot2 coding.
pie_colors <- c("orangered4","orchid4", "palegreen4","paleturquoise4", "palevioletred4")
Pie Chart ggplot Style: There is No “geom_pie” or “geom_circle”
Now, before we look at the code, let me show you the output. This is the final pie chart below.
Of course, I expected there to be a “geom” shape for a circle. There isn’t! It’s geom_bar! Look at the code!
ggplot(piechart_df, aes("", Proportion, fill = Type)) + geom_bar(width = 1, size = 1, color = "white", stat = "identity") + coord_polar("y") + geom_text(aes(label = paste0(round(Proportion*100,0), "%")), position = position_stack(vjust = 0.5)) + labs(x = NULL, y = NULL, fill = NULL, title = "Distribution of Media Conditions Tested") + guides(fill = guide_legend(reverse = TRUE)) + scale_fill_manual(values = pie_colors) + theme_classic() + theme(axis.line = element_blank(), axis.text = element_blank(), axis.ticks = element_blank(), plot.title = element_text(hjust = 0.5, color = "saddlebrown"))
So, let’s talk about this code! How do we get geom_bar to be a pie chart? This is how:
- On the aes line to launch the chart, notice how the x value is set at “”. That’s because it doesn’t matter. It’s a pie chart, so it doesn’t have an x – only a y.
- The circular style is achieved with geom_bar + coord_polar. The geom_bar line describes a white, unshapen bar, and coord_polar(“y”) is what turns it into a circle.
- The geom_text line turns the proportions into percent, and adds them as data labels. Notice the position option to move the label a little so it’s not so crowded.
- labs fills in the labels I want to fill in.
- guides format the legend. For whatever reason, I wanted the legend listed in reverse of the default, which explains the reverse = TRUE option.
- Scale_fill_manual tells ggplot2 to use the color vector for the colors we specified and overwrite the default colors.
- Theme commands after that include theme_classic() (to give it a clean, uncluttered theme), and the theme command to format the plot title with a particular color, and to suppress a lot of elements that look ugly in default on a pie chart.
Updated April 20, 2022. Photograph of pies by Haem85, available here. Added banners March 6, 2023.
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Pie chart ggplot style is surprisingly hard to make, mainly because ggplot2 did not give us a circle shape to deal with. But I explain how to get around it in my blog pot.