Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte

Envisioning Information has been gathering dust along with Tufte’s other books that I got for “free” at his excellent one-day course last spring, but now that grad school is on hiatus for winter break, I finally picked it up and it was great.

It covers several topics about presenting information (mostly in print, but much is applicable to computer displays) like:

  • The use of color, to later and separate information presentions
  • Use of small multiples to present information. Lots of little identically formatted graphs/pictures are easy for the eye to discern differences and trends from, because one only has to “decode” the graph structure once
  • Techniques for presenting multidimensional data in space and time (like train schedules and planetary motion) in easy to read, two dimensional charts

The book is full of beautiful examples of well presented information such as train schedules and maps, along with what not to do, accompanied in places by case studies on improvements to the bad examples.

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