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Creating More Effective Graphs 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Yes, Robbins can teach you how to lie with statistics by using three-dimensional bar charts, how to confuse by using stacked bar charts, and how to obscure by using the plain old pie chart. But her focus is demonstrating truth-telling techniques that promote understanding by providing visual clarity. Some of these techniques were new to me, such as the dot plot, the jittered strip plot, the trellis display, and the box and whisker plot.
What's a box and whisper plot, you ask? Unlike this review, Robbins book is filled with examples. Most two-page spreads show a graphic on the left page, and one or two paragraphs of text on the other. With a few exceptions, the graphics were generated by Robbins herself, which gives the book a consistent look that is pleasing to the eye.
These two-page spreads help make the book fairly modular. If, for example, you are not familiar with logarithms, you can easily skip over those sections. Read the first three chapters to understand her approach. Read more until you get bored. Then skip, skim and scan, looking for the juicy bits.
Here's one "Scales: Must Zero Be Included?" she asks. It depends, she answers, and illustrates her point with a description of guru Edward Tufte during his workshop on presenting data. Tufte gets up on a table, opens a book, and unfolds a long narrow piece of paper some seven or eight feet long. At the top was a small line graph. At the bottom was the zero.Read more ›
My charts are now much better because of this book! While Tufte convinced me that pie charts were bad, Robbins explained why and showed me how to use dot plots to replace pie charts/stacked bar charts. I picked up a number of other important techniques,including cycle plots and trellis displays. She has excellent advice for Excel users, including a link to a dot plot template for Excel.
Her discussion on trellis displays convinced me that there are other charting tools beside Excel that can be used for multivariate charting. I learned about R (free statistics and graphics package) and have started using it so that I can do some of the trellis charting that Robbins explains so well.
Even if you have Tufte's books, you will learn practical aspects of making effective charts with this book. Robbins shows you how to do what Tufte recommends.
But there is another vast audience: People who are neither graphic designers nor statisticians, but who need to make effective graphs. This audience includes businesspeople, academics in many fields, and anyone who needs to present information graphically. In addition, many people need to read graphs.
For all these people, this book is close to ideal and is highly recommended. Robbins writes clearly, chooses good examples, and shows both good and bad graphics (and states why the former are better than the latter).
The real point of Effective Graphs (both this book and the subject itself), though, is not making graphs just a little bit better. There's much more substance than a minute improvement in one's graphs. The real point is that data behaviour elucidation has two rather distinct paradigms: (1) the statistical inference paradigm (tables of descriptive statistics, parameter estimation, test statistics, hypothesis testing) or (2) the William S. Cleveland Visualization Paradigm (well-done simple graphs as well as graphs plotting more complex or highly-derivative quantities).
In the statistical inference paradigm, what one sees, literally, is only big bunches of numerals -- the depiction of those abstract entities we call numbers. In point of fact, even if you were literally blind, the statistical inference paradigm of data behaviour elucidation would work just as well for you as it would for a sighted person. In diametrically opposite contrast is the William S. Cleveland Visualization paradigm in which you will literally SEE data behaviours. This is what this book is about.
"Creating More Effective Graphs" is about SEEing data behaviours. The book is therefore targeted to anybody who wants to show data behaviour, but especially those folks not in the scientific or statistical worlds -- although, people in those worlds will also find, as the title suggests, very effective ideas when taken to heart. For the more advanced issues of data behaviour formulated as rather advanced statistical questions, you should refer to William S.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I received the book as part of her class. Very clear and well-written. I recommend the book and the class.Published 2 months ago by A. Moorhead
This book promised a lot but definitely fails to live up to its hype. For one thing all of the graphics / illustrations are in black and white rather than in colour which would... Read morePublished 19 months ago by PTBW
Naomi masters the art of presenting in a concise, clear, and didactic way complex issues related to data visualization and perception. Read morePublished on March 22, 2014 by Mario Runciman
This book gives a good overview over techniques of visualization of data. It's easy to work through. The only thing missing is a chapter about colours. Read morePublished on January 2, 2014 by Markus Näpflin
Naomi Robbins' "Creating More Effective Graphs" is an excellent source for designers, statisticians and analysts of all kinds. Read morePublished on October 16, 2013 by John Rosenfelder
I read about a different book in The Economist, and since my group at work is focused on providing nice charts/graphs, I decided to buy 3 to enhance our chances of finding... Read morePublished on August 28, 2013 by Albert Trezza