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Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten Second Edition

35 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0970601971
ISBN-10: 0970601972
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Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten + Information Dashboard Design: Displaying Data for At-a-Glance Monitoring + Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephen Few is the founder of the consultancy Perceptual Edge. He speaks, teaches, and consults around the world and writes the quarterly Visual Business Intelligence Newsletter. He is the author of Information Dashboard Design: Displaying Data for At-a-Glance Monitoring and Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Analytics Press; Second edition (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0970601972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0970601971
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Few is on a mission to help organizations squeeze real value from the mounds of data that surround and threaten to bury them. Through his consultancy Perceptual Edge, Stephen teaches simple, clear, and practical data visualization techniques for analyzing and presenting quantitative information. He teaches, speaks, and consults internationally with organizations of all types and writes the quarterly Visual Business Intelligence Newsletter. He is also the author of three popular books: Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten, Second Edition, Information Dashboard Design: Displaying data for at-a-glance monitoring, Second Edition, and Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis. You can learn more about his work at www.perceptualedge.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Galen Menzel on March 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stephen Few has a rare talent for explaining apparently opaque concepts in simple terms, but without simplifying the subject. This book starts from the *very* beginning and provides the reader with a solid understanding of the basics of chart design, including when to use a table vs a graph, what types of tables and graphs to use for what kinds of data, and why certain graphical features are more effective than others. Throughout, Few maintains a plain, readable writing style that is never patronizing even when spelling out seemingly obvious points (e.g., use a table if you need to look up a specific value). His patient tone and simple presentation end up guiding you through some unexpectedly sophisticated waters of design almost without your even realizing you've gone anywhere.

In addition to the design coverage, Few covers some (very) basic statisics, how to adjust for inflation, rgb values of a nice selection of colors to use in graphs, how to make box graphs in Excel, and many other workaday details that make the book immediately useful. Most of the charts in the book are made in Excel, showing that you don't need advanced design software to make attractive, clear charts.

The book itself is a beautiful large hardback. This is the source of my one complaint: its large size makes it somewhat difficult to just pop off the shelf and flip through to find something.

If you want to learn how to design good tables and graphs, get it.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Stacey Barr on January 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Okay, I'll admit that I haven't read "Show Me The Numbers" from cover to cover, even though I've owned a copy (a signed copy!) for a few years. But it's not the kind of book that requires this to get the value from it.

My field is organisational performance measurement, and I've seen countless examples of performance reports that truly suck. They are ugly, they are cumbersome, the data is misrepresented and awkwardly displayed. It's near impossible to draw conclusions, and even more impossible to draw valid conclusions about what performance is doing, and why. How can you make wise business decisions with information fodder so poor?

So Stephen's book is a gold mine of sensible statistical basics to help us all - novices and experienced practitioners alike - to improve the way we design and use tables and graphs to highlight relationships and patterns in data like comparisons, trends and correlations.

One of my favourite parts of the book is in chapter 7, "General Design for Communication", where Stephen lays out a wonderful framework for how text can be used to assist tables and graphs to tell the story of the data. This framework is a wonderful checklist for how to design the content of a performance report that can highlight, interpret, explain and recommend responses to signals in our performance measures.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By ky0ung123 on January 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great desk resource for people that are in business intelligence, data visualization or dashboard design that work with tools like excel, tableau or microstrategy. This is one of my favs - even before you buy Tufte books, get this for a practical foundation in data design. It's the textbook to the class I wish I took.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia M. Howson on August 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Show Me the Numbers is a must read for all BI professionals charged with designing reports, dashboards, and communicating insights from data. He starts with the basics on how our brains sift through images, what we focus on, what distracts us, and why. There is a nice primer on different statistics, when to use a tabular data set versus a graph, and which charts are most effective for particular analyses. Unlike many technical books on the market today, Few also has produced a high quality, colorful book that also would make a great gift!
Cindi Howson, Successful Business Intelligence: Secrets to Making BI a Killer App
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hans Wesselingh on June 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It has been a pleasure to work through this book. Even this 75-year old professional learned a few tricks on making better tables and graphs. On how to show the important data - and no more. On how to convince your readers.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Samir Damle on May 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I work at a big data analytics company and this book is serving as a very good guide for creating meaningful charts that actually help in -
[1] learning the most important takeaways from the charts
[2] making decisions based on data

This book opens your eyes to learn how to create a truly useful chart instead of presenting data merely for eye candy. Thanks Stephen Few!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dallas Marks on December 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten by Stephen Few- now in its second edition- is filled with 371 pages of analytical goodness. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I don't own the first edition of Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten, which was published in 2004. But I didn't really know who Stephen Few was until I started working with Xcelsius and somebody turned me onto his outstanding dashboards book, which was also recently revised into a second edition.

While the dashboards book, Information Dashboard Design: Displaying Data for At-a-Glance Monitoring, is focused on at-a-glance dashboards, Show Me the Numbers is more broadly focused and goes into extreme depth on both table and graph design. Like the dashboards book, Show Me the Numbers begins by laying a foundation with the science on how our brains perceive visual information, then builds its design principles on that foundation. Mr. Few is widely cited (or disparaged) as "the cranky guy that hates pie charts". But his criticism of pie charts (and other poor visualization practices) is grounded in the science of visual perception, not his personal taste in visualizations.

A 371-page book may sound kind of scary, but it is broken down into fourteen chapters that can be easily digested. Mr. Few's writing style is clear and easy to understand, although if you're like me you'll put the book down at the end of each chapter so you can think. The book is tool agnostic, so even if your primary tool is Microsoft Excel you'll benefit from reading it.
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