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The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within, Second Edition [Paperback]

by Edward R. Tufte
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2006 0961392169 978-0961392161 2
Book by Tufte, Edward R.

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The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within, Second Edition + Visual and Statistical Thinking: Displays of Evidence for Making Decisions + The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Graphics Press; 2 edition (2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0961392169
  • ISBN-13: 978-0961392161
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 8.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
263 of 276 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No useful information in this book March 22, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If there were a fan club for Edward Tufte, I would gladly sign up to be an officer. His three books changed the way I think about presenting information, and added the invaluable term "chartjunk" to my vocabulary. I was enormously excited to learn that he had written about Powerpoint and could hardly wait to lay my hands on the publication. Unfortunately, it wasn't worth the wait.

To those thinking about buying this booklet (28 pages) let me save you the expense by summarizing it:

PowerPoint slides don't have much information in them, and you're limited to a sequential presentation order.

That's about it. His booklet is an extended indictment of the limitations of PowerPoint. Anyone interested in suggestions for Powerpoint improvements will find a refernce on the last page in a postscript to read the third chapter of his book, Visual Explanations, or visit his web site.

Do that instead of reading this booklet.
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265 of 288 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Information Guru Indicts Presentation Software July 9, 2004
Format:Paperback
Edward Tufte is the foremost advocate of communicating complex data simply and clearly in the world today. It was naturally only a matter of time before he cast a critical eye on the software most responsible for dumbing down information transfer across the fruited plains---PowerPoint.
Don't worry: Tufte's criticisms of the software package are not the latest round of Microsoft-bashing from an academic elite practically wed to its Macs.
Rather, Tufte sets his sights on bigger and more rewarding game: how presenters have watered down their presentation styles to suit off-the-rack presentation templates provided by this software package.
His thesis is as simple and elegant as his goal of streamlined, impactful communication. PowerPoint lacks the resolution necessary to convey a rich stream of information to the presentation audience.
If you're inclined to defend the software, ask yourself if you've endured the following in a PowerPoint slideshow:
- An unending stream of bullet lists or "talking points" consisting of a handful of words per slide
- Branding (logos, headers, footers, titles etc) which takes up a large portion of available slide real estate
- "Sesame Street" style animations which obscure rather than illuminate the subject matter
- Distracting audio cues which draw the audience's attention away from the speaker and toward "the machine that goes, 'PING'"
Or try a simpler exercise: Think back to the best talk or pitch you can recall. Was PowerPoint employed? I suspect not; and for good reason, as Tufte argues.
Sadly, thanks to the ubiquity of the software, the abuse of PowerPoint has consequences far beyond bored audiences.
Read more ›
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455 of 499 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Know Your Audience! December 29, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
After the first read, I was disappointed with Edward Tufte's essay on PPTs. I was expecting more practical suggestions from the master of visualizing information; steps we could all take to make our PPTs better. This essay mostly gives graphic examples of bad PPTs. We've all seen plenty of bad PPTs in our lives. Do we really need to pay Mr. Tufte to see more?
The point of the essay seems to be, instead of trying to make your PPTs better, you shouldn't even bother using the evil software package from Microsoft. Instead, make a nice handout for your audience.
So I decided to perform a test. I was involved in an internal presentation to a different group in the company. One by one, eight different managers gave a 10 to 15 minute presentation to a group of about 25 people. While the other managers worked on their PPTs, got their laptops ready, and made sure a screen and a Boxlight would be in the conference room, I worked on a one-page handout. My presentation would stand by itself, without the crutch of PPT illuminating the wall behind me; the handout would supplement my presentation, and would allow the audience to take something physical back to their offices.
After the presentations were over, the audience was asked to fill out a survey. To summarize, they hated the handouts, loved the PPTs. And the PPT presentation they loved the best was one of the most hideous examples I had ever seen--one Mr. Tufte would have had a field day tearing apart, one slide at a time.
I agree that too many presenters use bad PPTs as a crutch, and as presenters we should rely more on handouts as a secondary communication tool. However, in my own experience the audience seems to want and *expect* PPTs-in which case a bad PPT might be more effective than no PPT at all. Read Tufte's essay and take his points to heart, but ultimately, KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of good counter-examples January 12, 2005
Format:Paperback
I'm a big fan of Tufte's series of three well-known books on information display. I respect the man's opinions completely, and look to him for the best advice on connecting information to the human mind.

That's why this booklet (28pp, covers included) disappoints me - he just doesn't live up to his own standard. As he did with the Challenger space shuttle's disaster years ago, he uses this book to analyze the presentations that contributed to the loss of the Columbia shuttle and crew. In the Challenger case, he showed some of the mis- and dis-informative displays, and how they could have been converted to tools for making decisions. In the Columbia case, he only went half-way: what was wrong, not how to make it right.

The rest of the booklet follows the same pattern: what's wrong, with very few positive, definite suggestions for mitigating or circumventing the problems. His conclusion is that PowerPoint is hopelesly flawed, and I have to agree. That's just not enough, though. Given its dire failings, and given that its use is pervasive and sometimes compulsory, what specific steps can we as viewers and presenters take in order to transfer information anyway?

This is a great half of a book: the problem statement. His bad examples are wonderfully bad. Unfortunately, the missing second half is replaced by little more than one sentence on the inside back cover: "Well, I can recommend 3 books on how to present visual evidence!"

Please, Mr. Tufte. You can do better, you have done better, and your readers deserve better.

//wiredweird
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, a bit old-school with today's slide show capabilities.
This was for a grad school class, but it seemed to be a bit old for the technology that we were studying.
Published 1 month ago by Kim
5.0 out of 5 stars Hit's the nail right on the head
Concise evaluation of the many problems caused in corporate communications by misuse of PowerPoint. Has excellent recommendations for improving business presentations.
Published 2 months ago by Mitchell Steffen
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique insights into the limitations of the Power Point program.
I bought this book because I design Power Point presentations. I never use the so called helpful design tools or use the bulleting menu unless appropriate. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mahala Marshall Rood
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavy on snark, thin on content
I am teaching with this text this semester in a college course. The book was already ordered when I was assigned the class so I chose not to rethink that and forge ahead. Read more
Published 6 months ago by superchk
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately, more a reprimand than a guide.
I bought this "leaflet" a while ago before going to business school and it, with a heavy influence from Tufte's books, market the way I presented information in my prior job. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Peter Missine
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Essay on All That is Wrong With Power Point
It is a very well written essay on why i, as a lot of people, cringe when I get presented PP with all the bells and whistles used. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jon Riley
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting new paradigm.
This small booklet essentially says that most of us have no clue how to use PPT effectively. It is right. The new vision is less slides and all but no words on the slides. Read more
Published 17 months ago by AZS
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite quotes & singers from this essay
I recommend this book to anyone who does presentations.

Here are some great quotes from it:

"PowerPoint allows speakers to pretend that they are giving a real... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Gerald
4.0 out of 5 stars Needed text for college class
This item arrived promptly and is pefectly serviceable condition. The pricing was good as well. Great information on using power point even though it's a 2006 edition.
Published 23 months ago by amosmo
1.0 out of 5 stars Useless. Tufte Violates His Own Rules.
I'm a big fan of Mr. Tufte.

However... this book violates his own rules of presentation.

* There is no useful information in the book
* It's a rehashing... Read more
Published on March 3, 2012 by RSC - Nyack, NY
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