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The Visual Display of Quantitative Information Hardcover – February 1, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0961392109 ISBN-10: 096139210X

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 197 pages
  • Publisher: Graphics Pr (February 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 096139210X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0961392109
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 8.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A timeless classic in how complex information should be presented graphically. The Strunk & White of visual design. Should occupy a place of honor--within arm's reach--of everyone attempting to understand or depict numerical data graphically. The design of the book is an exemplar of the principles it espouses: elegant typography and layout, and seamless integration of lucid text and perfectly chosen graphical examples. Very Highly Recommended.

Review

A tour de force. -- John Tukey, Bell Laboratories and Princeton University

One of the best books you will ever see. -- Datamation

The century's best book on statistical graphics. -- Computing Reviews

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 46 customer reviews
The book outlines Tufte's theories for better displaying data in graphical forms.
W. Sean McLaughlin
In the past eight years, I have read and re-read this book more times than I can remember - always amazed at its clarity and always learning something new.
Don Hilton
In some examples, he shows how small changes can make the difference between an awful graphic and a really good one.
Durand Sinclair

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

259 of 264 people found the following review helpful By Durand Sinclair on February 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
You know what's so good about this book? The research, that's what. In showing both good and bad graphic design, Tufte has examples from as far back as 1686, and many examples from the 18th,19th & 20th centuries and from many different countries.
Good graphic design, he argues, reveals the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space. Interestingly, some of the best examples of this come from the pre-computer era, when graphics had to be drawn by hand (and therefore more thought had to go into their design, rather than the author just calling up the Bar Graph template on the desktop.) For example, that picture you can see on the front cover of the book is actually a train timetable that packs a whole list of arrivals and departures at many different stations into a single little picture. A better example (and the "best statistical graphic ever drawn") shows Napoleon's route through Europe. It shows a) the map b) where he went c) how many people were in his army at each point and d) the temperature on the way back that killed off his army. At a glance you can see the factors that led to his army losing. AND it was drawn by hand in 1885 and is little more than a line drawing!
He also gives examples of really bad design, (including "the worst graphic ever to make it to print"), and shows what makes it so bad. His examples prove that information-less, counter-intuitive graphics can still look dazzlingly pretty, even though they're useless. In some examples, he shows how small changes can make the difference between an awful graphic and a really good one. My favourite example of this is how he drew the inter-quartile ranges on the x and y axes of a scatterplot, thus adding more information to the graphic without cluttering it up.
In summary, there's a lot more to good graphic design than being an Adobe guru. Reading this book made me feel like a more discerning viewer of graphics!
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This book, and the two companion volumes ("Envisioning Information" and "Visual Explanations") are must-haves for anyone who is in the business or producing or interpreting
statistical information.

Tufte starts with a simple proposition: graphs and graphics
that represent statistical data should tell the truth. It's
amazing how often designers of such graphics miss this basic
point. Tufte clearly and entertainingly elucidates the most
common "graphical lies" and how to avoid them.

Read this
book and you'll never look at a newspaper or presentation
graphics the same way again -- you'll be left wondering if
the author *intended* to lie about what the data were saying, or if he/she just didn't know any better.

Another reviewer claimed that this book talks about how to make graphics accurate, not beautiful. He's right in some sense, but who cares? There are a million books on how to make "pretty" graphical displays, but precious few on how to make useful ones. These books are they.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Schultz on May 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book will teach you some basics on how to most effectively present quantitative information using various sorts of graphs and charts. Afterwards you will know how and why you should get rid of chart junk (gridlines, tick marks, ornaments, etc.) or alternatively using some of the examples on bad design presented, you will see how to manipulate your audience using the "Lie Factor". Actually the advice given in this book could easily fit within just one piece of paper, but then: This book is simply beautiful. It is state of the art for printed books, you almost feel a passion for it. Mr. Tufte takes his own medicine: No words in this book are superfluous. Illustrations and examples are carefully selected and reprinted with the utmost care. It takes no more than some hours to read the book, but afterwards you can use more than just a few hours to study the examples of timeless graphic displays. The only reason why this book is short of five stars is the following: Mr. Tufte uses quite some space providing statistics about charts found in different publications (chart junk percentages, lie factor. Personally I find this information fairly irrelevant and would have preferred more examples of chart remakes. However this book is definately still a MUST have!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Don Hilton on February 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
True. One boss replaced another and cleared the "old junk" from the office bookshelves. I picked this gem up and out of a trash can, hurried to my office, and did a little dance with the book clutched to my chest!
In the past eight years, I have read and re-read this book more times than I can remember - always amazed at its clarity and always learning something new. I've used the cut-thru-the-crap ideas it holds to get my point across in business, research, education, manufacturing, and web design. Anytime somebody tells me I have a knack for simplifying complicated ideas I smile and think of this book. IT'S GREAT!
Oh, and the new boss? He's gone.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Michael R. Chernick on February 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This was the first of three books written by Tufte on graphical displays. This book has been heralded by famous statisticians and average readers as an eloquent description of the how to and how not to make graphs. Now in its sixteenth printing, this is still a classic and the pictures tell the story along with the prose.
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