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Creating More Effective Graphs 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471274025
ISBN-10: 047127402X
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Editorial Reviews


"She adopts a bookbook format providing hints on graphs in one, two and more dimensions, scales, visual clarity and so on...the page design- with half of every page blank - is refreshingly easy on the eyes. Inclusion of examples is generous." (Junk Charts 2008)

  "This book should occupy a spot on any statistician's bookshelf next to Cleveland's…" (Computational Statistics, July 2007)

"...sociologists looking to enhance their communication of numeric data using graphs will find...helpful tips in this book." (Sociological Methods & Research, August 2007)

"…deserves to be on the desk of every researcher and postgraduate student…" (Current Science, September 2006)

"…a valuable teaching resource." (Statistical Methods in Medical Research, February 2006)

"...the author has managed to accomplish what most technical people have been unable to do before--make graphs fun...you'll never look at any graph, the same way again." (OnceWritten.com)

"Novice and experienced graph designers alike, as well as many individuals ultimately responsible for reading graphs, will benefit from reading this book." (Technical Communication, November 2005)

"Using real-world examples, Robbins draws on her years of experience in graphical data analysis and presentation to highlight some of today's most effective methods." (Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin, Summer 2005)

From the Author

I have discovered quality problems with the 5th and 6th printings of Creating More Effective Graphs. Contact me at naomi at nbr-graphs.com if you have one of these printings to learn how to get a replacement copy.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Interscience; 1 edition (December 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047127402X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471274025
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #919,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is no coffee table book for the numerati. It is practical handbook for anyone who wants to use graphics to help people to understand data. "One graph is more effective than another," Robbins says, "if its quantitative information can be decoded more quickly or more easily by most observers."

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.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great book for those who really want to make their charts/graphs more effective. Robbins' discussion on visual perception helped me understand why pie charts and stacked bar charts are such poor communication tools. Her dot plot examples convinced me to start using them even though Excel doesn't provide a dot plot chart type. I made my own.

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.
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Format: Paperback
In the world of statistical graphics, there are two big names: Edward Tufte and William Cleveland. Tufte writes for graphic designers who want to learn some statistics. Cleveland writes for statisticsians who want to learn some graphics. All their books are excellent, and the author of this book (Naomi Robbins) stresses that.

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).
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Format: Paperback
This book gets 5-stars for those persons that have trepidation about really modifying how they do graphing. For the fearful person, no other book is as gentle, yet effective, at convincing you of the inadequacy of your simple (most likely Excel) ways.

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.
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