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The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (1983)

by Edward R. Tufte

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4,461521,881 (4.42)29
This book deals with the theory and practice in the design of data graphics and makes the point that the most effective way to describe, explore, and summarize a set of numbers is to look at pictures of those numbers, through the use of statistical graphics, charts, and tables. It includes 250 illustrations of the best (and a few of the worst) statistical graphics, with detailed analysis of how to display data for precise, effective, quick analysis. Also offered is information on the design of the high-resolution displays, small multiples, editing and improving graphics, and the data-ink ratio. Time-series, relational graphics, data maps, multivariate designs, as well as detection of graphical deception: design variation vs. data variation, and sources of deception are discussed. Information on aesthetics and data graphical displays is included. The 2nd edition provides high-resolution color reproductions of the many graphics of William Playfair (1750-1800), adds color to other images where appropriate, and includes all the changes and corrections during the 17 printings of the 1st edition.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
A slightly dated text with very modern adaptations.

This (classic?) book focuses on what makes a good graphical display of data and has a lot of examples of how to do, including the mandatory horror examples of how to not to do.

I agree with almost everything he says though some of it doesn't really matter that much in computer generated graphics (saving ink to save drawing time). Unfortunately it becomes quite obvious that a lot of graphical display of data in blogs, newspapers or other media has been designed by people that never found this book.

If I'm to summarize his advice it's "draw less". Draw less to not confuse the reader with mixed signals and keep it simple for the same reason. He has a number of examples of what can be removed from a "default" graph without losing any information and all and in the progress enhancing the visualization of the actual data. ( )
  bratell | Dec 25, 2020 |
A really interesting book, still useful despite being dated. A lot of Tufte's lessons have been internalized by contemporary designers, though there are certainly lots of terrible charts out there. Still, the use of moiré he inveighs against is thankfully long since abandoned. The book is not as useful today as it would have been to read 30 years ago, but still informative. ( )
  dhmontgomery | Dec 13, 2020 |
An absolutely essential manual for anyone working in graphics who wants to use data analysis or quantitative information in any way. The book doesn't offer concepts, just information, and it is clear and comprehensive. ( )
  ephemeral_future | Aug 20, 2020 |
A classic.
A beautiful piece of work.
A minimal primer.
A coherent aesthetic philosophy.
An amulet of protection against data-imbued confusions presented as "infoviz"es.
A 'start here'.
The last word. ( )
  GirlMeetsTractor | Mar 22, 2020 |
Great read for anyone interested in data visualization. ( )
  simonspacecadet | Jul 29, 2018 |
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For my parents
Edward E. Tufte and Virginia James Tufte
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Excellence in statistical graphics consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision, and efficiency.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This book deals with the theory and practice in the design of data graphics and makes the point that the most effective way to describe, explore, and summarize a set of numbers is to look at pictures of those numbers, through the use of statistical graphics, charts, and tables. It includes 250 illustrations of the best (and a few of the worst) statistical graphics, with detailed analysis of how to display data for precise, effective, quick analysis. Also offered is information on the design of the high-resolution displays, small multiples, editing and improving graphics, and the data-ink ratio. Time-series, relational graphics, data maps, multivariate designs, as well as detection of graphical deception: design variation vs. data variation, and sources of deception are discussed. Information on aesthetics and data graphical displays is included. The 2nd edition provides high-resolution color reproductions of the many graphics of William Playfair (1750-1800), adds color to other images where appropriate, and includes all the changes and corrections during the 17 printings of the 1st edition.

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