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57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
This short easy read is a beautiful introduction to how to make professional graphics. Because the WSJ is featured in the title, I was a bit nervous that the entire book would be focused on visualizing financial data but it has great advice for anyone who needs to visualize numeric data. I really enjoyed it because there is unique advice that adds to other practical...
Published on January 9, 2010 by I Teach Typing

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simple.
The effort is good, and covers the basic concepts nicely. It is inadequate for directing design concepts for an information system or dashboard designs. For that, take a look at Stephen Few's books - more precise and more sophisticated discussions appropriate to business graphics.
Published on December 24, 2010 by E. Hauser


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57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, January 9, 2010
By 
I Teach Typing (Miami, Florida USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures (Hardcover)
This short easy read is a beautiful introduction to how to make professional graphics. Because the WSJ is featured in the title, I was a bit nervous that the entire book would be focused on visualizing financial data but it has great advice for anyone who needs to visualize numeric data. I really enjoyed it because there is unique advice that adds to other practical books on visualization like Creating More Effective Graphs, and it nicely complements or leads into classics like The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd edition or Visualizing Data.

The first chapter covers basic issues like how many colors, what colors, how many lines, etc.. The second, which is the bulk of the book, contrasts effective and poor graphics on side by side pages. There is concise useful advice on truncating ranges, breaking axes, using broken bar graphs, how many pie pieces, etc. The advice is beyond simple do or do not break a bar, it discusses how much of a discrepancy in the height of a bar chart merits a break. While other books have advice that ends with "do or do not use some graphics" (like pie charts), this one has great advice on when it makes sense to do things like break graphics into sets of pictures, use broken bars in bar charts, how and when to set scales (so that graphics afford meaningful comparisons) and how to make the best use of pie charts. There is a short section on descriptive statistics, when to use means, medians, plotting percentages vs actual changes, etc. and there is a surprisingly nice section on the algebra for setting axes which I have never seen written up. The final two chapters deal with specialize topics like plotting financial matters or plotting time series and relations among groups.

The only real down side is there is no discussion of what tools to use to make the graphics or how the graphics in this book were rendered. Despite this, the book is superb because it covers the material in adequate detail and it gives insights that are either not covered at all or are scattered across many sources.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep This One On Your Desk, February 26, 2010
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This review is from: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures (Hardcover)
As a marketing analyst my job involves a great deal of analyzing data and turning that data into meaningful information for directors, vp's, etc. I've read just about every book out there on this subject at some point or another. This one is a definite keeper. The kind of book that you'd want to keep on your desk if creating charts and graphs is something you do regularly. If you follow these principles your presentations will stand out from the crowd.

I am always shocked by the rarity, within corporate America, of the ability to do this well. The fact is that most top tier MBA's that I've worked with still can't get past the default settings in Excel to even figure out how to get rid of the gray backroung on their charts--let alone follow best practices such as those espoused by this book and the work of Edward Tufte and Stephen Few.

Having mentioned Tufte and Few, let me digress for a moment and discuss them.

Edward Tufte is the guru of data visualization and it's important to point out that this book's author, Donna Wong, studied under the master himself, so you know her credentials are top notch. It's like learning kung fu from the guy that was trained by Bruce Lee. Except he skips all the BS and just shows you how to kick ass. Of course, unlike Bruce Lee, Edward Tufte is not dead and as far as I know has never taken on Kareem Abdul-Jabar in a yellow track suit. He still writes and publishes his own work, but it's far more theoretical, and not as user friendly as, this book is.

As for Stephen Few, he is the second biggest name out there when it comes to data visualization best practices. I have one of his books, "Information Dashboard Design," which, while good, provides too many examples of what NOT to do, with not enough examples of best practices, in my opinion. Few also, likely feeling that another author had ventured into his territory, posted a somewhat negative review of this book on his website. I think he was a bit unfair and nitpicky.

This book is right to the point and shows the reader how best to present any kind of data in the most effective way possible. It does not, however, get into the specifics of how to do these things with Excel. For that, you may wish to look up an e-book by Charles Kyd who goes into great detail with the best ways to use Excel for the creation of dashboards. I also heartily recommend "Balanced Scorecards and Operational Dashboards" by Ron Person. The second half of which convers a great deal of useful Excel information. Can you tell that this stuff is my life???
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars useful and usable guidelines for creating charts and graphs, January 18, 2010
This review is from: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures (Hardcover)
An excellent set of guidelines for the effective use of graphical information in a document, website, or presentation. The book is very well laid out, easy to follow, and just makes sense.

The book focuses primarily on bar charts and line graphs. I wish the book were longer. It would be great if it covered more types of information graphics, with further criteria on how to select the best graphic for the job.

This is a great companion to Robert L. Harris's Information Graphics. While Harris's book is much more extensive, I feel this book gives better advice for creating clear, effective graphics.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bible for visual communication, January 12, 2010
By 
Lee Featherby (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures (Hardcover)
As the Managing Director of an organisatioon that creates high end presentations for clients, as well as train them in the same, we are constantly wrestling with creating infographics that are clear, concise and communicate their message effectively. So, it was with eager anticiaption that I awaited the arrival of Dona Wong's "The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics" and I must say I was delighted after perusing its content. Rarely do your read a book that crystalises all that can be said in an area of communication in a way that Dona Wong has done in this book.

Written with a style and clarity that reflects her approach to infographics, it provides an outstanding guide to creating visuals that are clear and to the point. The book is itself an example of communicating without excess whilst delivering a message effectively. (If you have every read Edwarde Tufte's seminal books you will appreciate Dona's clarity)

I whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone who needs to create charts, tables or other figures and believe that Dona Wong takes over from where Tufte finished.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visual design principles that are simple and work, January 13, 2010
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This review is from: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures (Hardcover)
I've witnessed many attempts at "quantitative communication" in a complex corporate setting. Most efforts leave the reader/audience either overwhelmed, confused, bored or completely disengaged. Before turning themselves loose with Excel or PowerPoint, the financial and business development folks should do themselves a favor and read this book. Dona combines time-tested design principles (such as those advocated by Edward Tufte) with simplicity of application to help one immediately improve the vast majority of their quantitative communications. Worth it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Primer on Information Presentation, March 21, 2010
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This review is from: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures (Hardcover)
As anyone who has spent a substantial time floating through the vast oceans of the Internet seeking out some treasure knows, being able to tell the treasure within the detritus is a powerful skill. Frequently, an even more powerful, and necessary is being able to present that treasure to someone else such that they also see the value. Today I'll be sharing Dona' Wong's book "The Wall Street Journal Guide To information Graphics", which seeks to provide a resource to those who grapple with presenting informational treasure troves.

Before proceeding too far, let me say that figuring out novel ways to present information is a personal passion of mine, so I was thrilled to receive a review copy of this book. The great challenge in communicating informationally dense content is to arrive at a presentation format that transparently delivers the informational content in a powerful manner. While doing this, it is of the utmost importance to maintain the integrity of the data. If you have just a few data points a simple table might be sufficient, more commonly the data needs to be converted into some visual format so the message is not obscured by reams of numbers and the dread data blindness.

I found Wong's book to be an effective primer on information graphics. It has a strong bent towards their application to the financial industry, but the principles she espouses apply equally well to any other discipline where quantitative meaning is communicated. A passerby might be put off by the slimness of the volume but ought not be because this slender tome is an informationally rich, clear book full of insightful examples.

The book dashes through a wide array of content. In the first section, she covers basic concepts of charting, font selection, and proper application of color. This is followed up by an in-depth look at basic charts. Next, she dives into the fundamental mathematics that anyone presenting a chart should understand. She then proceeds cover some of the more ambiguous issues you might encounter. For instance how much data can be missing before a data set is unusable? How do you appropriately scale large numbers containing a small relative change? Finally, she rounds things out with an area not often covered by information graphicists which is on charting progress and resources.

While, this book is extremely light on the word-text, it does not shy away from graphic-text. Wong chooses to primarily discourse through visual example. The bulk of the book is structured as "don't do X" instead "do y." Each example is illustrated using a chart/counter-chart format. In nearly every example I recall, I found this to be an effective technique for illustrating the flaws to avoid or the methods she advocates.

My only criticism is that I found Chapter 4, on tricky situations, to be a bit of a rehash of topics she had previously covered. Three out of the four subjects, addressed in this section, are covered, in essence if not explicitly, in other sections of the book. Although she goes into more detail in this section, I would have preferred to have these topics integrated into the previous chapters. That said, although there is some ground being retread the issues she is covering in this chapter are persistent problems throughout the information graphic universe so perhaps some repetition is warranted.

In all, I would strongly encourage any one who is embarking out to the sea of ideas, or has already spent some time floating with little direction to pick up "The Wall Street Journal Guide To information Graphics." After finishing the book, the newly skilled presenter will be better prepared when next they bring home that hard won find, and wish to show others their newly acquired treasure.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simple., December 24, 2010
By 
E. Hauser (SHARON, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures (Hardcover)
The effort is good, and covers the basic concepts nicely. It is inadequate for directing design concepts for an information system or dashboard designs. For that, take a look at Stephen Few's books - more precise and more sophisticated discussions appropriate to business graphics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It needs to go just one step further, March 4, 2010
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This review is from: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures (Hardcover)
This small book is almost everything that it appears. It gives an attractive introduction to data display and shows the roles that colors, shapes, shades, lines, typography all have to play in creating a working data display that both pleases the eye and adds depth. I would really have liked it to have gone another step, however. There is nowhere that presents the methods that were used actually to create the displays in the book. The author acknowledges so many people for help. But if you are like me, you may be "on your own" and need to get started, at least, and help yourself after that. It is the need to get started and the hints of where to look to get that start that is really needed. Can someone write such a really basic book?
But this book is really valuable and worth the money.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wong turns theory into practice, February 22, 2010
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This review is from: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures (Hardcover)
In this book, Dona boils down all of the theory from Tufte's work and turns it into useful and practical guidelines for information display. If you're looking to develop guidelines for your company's charting and information graphics, Wong's book is an absolute must-read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Stop Reading It, April 20, 2010
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This review is from: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures (Hardcover)
This is one of the most useful books about information graphics. It's easy to read and exceptionally useful. I bought a backup copy just to be sure that I always have one around.

Don't think twice. Go for it. It's the real deal, the Holy Bible of graphics.
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