- 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: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,343,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Creating More Effective Graphs 1st Edition
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"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
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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But the range of previous reviews shows that it doesn't appeal to everyone. If you want discussion of graphs for data padded out with long-winded commentary, author anecdotes or autobiography, or erudite and rambling digressions on how important and how useful visualization is, there are several quite different books on offer.
What Naomi Robbins offers is a no-nonsense, nitty-gritty series of concrete recommendations on what kinds of graphs to use and why. The graphs don't need extended commentary, as they themselves are the bulk of the argument and the backing evidence. The author is able to draw on her own extensive experiences with data and advice to many others on what graphics to use. There is also reasoned discussion of what graphs to avoid and precisely why.
The readership could be students, people in business, scientists, anyone with some data to plot and wanting concrete possibilities to think about. The technical level is gentle, fully appreciating that few people recall all their high school mathematics easily, let alone have studied any since. Software is not an issue, as most graphs can be drawn easily even in MS Excel.
It is true that color is not discussed. I'm with those who maintain that a degree of minimalism in the use of color is usually a good thing. Too many graphics attract a Wow! because of their multicolored impact, but fruit salad and rainbow effects don't necessarily make a graph easier to understand. It's the Aha! that is more needed from graphics, seeing the structure in the data or coming away with a story of main patterns and important details that helps understanding. You can get the logic of a graph right with the recommendations here and then add modest coloring to taste.
The graphs and technical information presented may be useful for individuals with no graphing experience at all, but frankly, so does sticking to the basic chart type templates in typical applications. For even just slightly advanced users, this book does not offer any additional information or value.
The layout and design of the book itself is crude and full of poor typesetting choices, which is usable but rather off-putting (odd for a book that is supposed to help drawing attention to information): The entire book is grey scale, fonts chosen often don't enhance legibility of the plots, font sizes often inappropriate (tick labels touching, etc). I find this rather disturbing for a book that tries to educate on proper presentation of data.
I have worked as a researcher in academia as well as th ecorporate world and I have seen my share of ineffective and outright terrible plots and graphs, but I don't think this book will help anyone get better at it.
After reading her, several of my graphs have opened my own eyes to insights I did not have before, and the graphical presentations (messages) I make to my colleagues and customers have become clearer and more accurate.
I find her “Creating More Effective Graphs” complementary to Stephen Few’s books (“Show Me the Numbers”, “Now you See it”, and “Information Dashboard Design”).
I would recommend these books to everyone who has to present data in the practical business World.
These days most researchers are still forced to deal with black and white or gray-scale images for publications and this book will help you render great non-color graphics but with the use of web-presentation and color poster sessions there is a need for a 2nd edition to cover the use of color.
I strongly suspect that people who read this will want to get their hands on a real statistical graphics program like R, S-plus or SAS 9.2 (or newer) to be able to take full advantage of the suggestions but they are not required because with this book and some of the references (with websites given in the book) you can generate almost every graphic in Excel easily (box-whisker plots are a big exception).
The author does not do the Microsoft bashing that you see from other authors who love graphics (Tufte especially) but if you read this book you will understand their disdain for Excel and PowerPoint graphics.