The first time I tried making a donut chart in Tableau I just couldn’t figure it out. It’s not the most complex of charts, but there are a few elements involved when putting it together. So, if you were struggling like I was, take a look below for a brief overview of the donut as well as a step-by-step guide on how to build one in Tableau.

What is a Donut Chart?

A donut chart is a type of circular chart used for data visualization. It resembles a pie chart with a hole in the center, creating a “donut” shape. The whole in the middle can be left blank for some clean white space, or as you’ll see below in this example it can be used as a handy label space. Donut charts are used to display data in segments or categories, where the size of each segment represents a proportion or percentage of the whole.

Do’s of Using a Donut Chart

  • When you want to enable the user the quickly visualize the proportion to a whole of categorical data.
  • When you want to display some additional data, usually as a label or big numbers.
  • Can be useful to use two or more donut charts for comparison purposes.

Don’ts Using a Donut Chart

  • Don’t have more than 3 categories to compare. A crowded donut chart can be confusing and hard to understand.
  • Don’t overcomplicate formatting with colours or 3D elements. Don’t be afraid of having a simple chart, this is ok as the takeaway message should be evident and easily discernible.
  • Don’t use a donut chart for the sake of having an extra or different chart in your visualization. Ask yourself does it add benefit to your story.

Steps to building a donut chart in Tableau

Here are the steps to building a donut chart in Tableau, using the Samplestore Data.

Select Pie Chart from the Marks Pane and in the Column Pane double click to bring up the curser and then enter (the number) 0 and press enter.

Duplicate the “Sum(0)” measure you just made. This can be done by pressing control and dragging the pill into a blank space in still in the column pane.

Right click on this new duplicated measure and select “Dual Axis”

We now have two pie charts which only appear as one because they are overlapping. In the marks pane on the third section (Sum(0)2), change the colour to white and reduce the size via the size slider. This will become the inner circle.


Now we will add the data we want to explore. In this case we’ll drag the dimension called “Segments” into the colour section in the marks card and the measure called “Sales” into the segment section. This is done on the middle chart (Sum(0)).

And there’s the donut chart. Now it’s a matter of formatting and presentation.

The add in the labels, on the lower chart (Sum(0)2) drag the measure you want to have displayed in the white middle section. Here we are having it display the overall sum of sales to provide some context to the sales proportions. We’ll also drag sales on the label section in the middle chart so the specific sales of each segment is displayed.

From there adjust the size and colour to suit. It’s a good idea is to remove the unwanted and distracting axis headings and lines as they aren’t relevant and were an unwanted by product of having two charts that we merged.

Tim Fawcett
Author: Tim Fawcett