Upon my boss’ recommendation, I read the book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte. He lent me the book, and after the first chapter, I was hooked. I highly recommend it to all. It’s a classic.
In the book Tufte gives numerous examples of both good graphics and bad. We’ve all seen bad graphs. We scratch our heads and wonder what quantities are plotted on each axis… the scales are misleading… meaningful comparisons are hard to make from the graph… and so on.
Step by step Tufte explains the different ways in which graphics lie, and how to make graphs that convey the most information, elegantly, accurately, and in the most effective way… It’s a very fascinating read.
It’s even more fascinating to implement.
Using his basic principles — Tufte calls them the principles of graphical excellence — I instantly improved the quality of my numerical charts and presentation slides, both at work and for Art of Living material.
Tufte has written further on the subject. I read his second book, Envisioning Information, and then the third, Visual Explanations, both of which I found great. I plodded through the fourth, Beautiful Evidence, but I didn’t finish it. Maybe later.
Later this month my company is sponsoring a 1-day workshop by Edward R Tufte in Austin for me and a dozen others. I may have more to say then. 🙂