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Stay Away From 3D Charts

One of the easiest and best things you can do to improve your chart design is to simply avoid using 3D charts.

3D charts might “look cool,” but they do nothing to enhance the readability of your charts. In fact, adding a 3D aspect to your charts makes them harder to interpret and more difficult to read.

Take a look at these three examples to see for yourself!

Example 1

Here are some sales numbers and two charts created to reflect this data.

Although both charts are readable, the 3D chart requires more focus and concentration to make out the subtle differences between the bars.

On top of that, it is harder for our brains to line up the top edges of each bar with the numbers on the vertical axis.

However, this is much easier to do when looking at the 2D chart instead. That’s a win for the 2D chart in this round, for sure!

Example 2

This time, we have two pie charts to display the sales data.

Pie charts are already not the best when it comes to effectively communicating the data. But when you add a 3D aspect to a pie chart, it makes the problem even worse.

Looking at the 2D chart, you could probably order the slices from smallest to largest with some confidence.

However, looking at the 3D chart, it becomes much more difficult to compare the sizes of each pie slice. You might even find yourself second-guessing your initial assumptions about the data.

Once again, the 2D graph presents the data much more clearly.

Example 3

For our final example, we have two horizontal bar graphs set up to show the sales numbers once again.

If you look at the 3D chart, it’s tough to say if the bars go past 20, 30, 40, and 50.

But if you look at the 2D chart, you can much more easily see that the edges of the bars line up with the numbers on the vertical axis.

Although the difference is subtle in this case, the 2D chart still does a better job of clearly communicating the data.


Although these examples have been fairly simple, hopefully, you can see how a 2D chart is much more effective when it comes to displaying the data.

After all, as the data starts to be more complex, being able to clearly show that data becomes all the more important.

So the big takeaway from this article is…stay away from 3D charts. Stick to using 2D anytime you have the option.

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