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Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte Hardcover – 1994

4.4 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,344,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew G. Belge on April 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To me, this is Tufte's best book, although they are all really good. Although its visually gorgeous, its not a coffee table book to just flip through. You have to be willing to spend time with it, and if you do the rewards are tremendous.
Tufte presents a collection of some the best examples of information design ever invented, and some of the worst examples. And then he goes into the underlying principles that make the great ones sing out.
This book will be really helpful to any web page designer, UI designers, statisticians, cartographers, scientists, or anyone concerned with presenting dense information in a clear way.
There is a chapter on presenting multiple dimensional data on a flat, 2D paper that all by itself is worth the price of the book. Then there's the chapter on "Small Multiples" which presents wonderful examples of how to show patterns and changes. But then there's the chapter on layering of information, so the key pieces of data appear first, and the less relevant ones reveal themselves later. And on and on and on. Its just a great book.
To add to it, Tufte is obsessed with quality like nobody else I can think of in the book business. Its printed on 100% rag paper using real lead type because he thinks that all other methods are inferior. Which means the book is costly to make, but its of heirloom quality.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Passionate exposition on effective visualizations. Key takeaways are small-multiples, use of color, and use of details. However, the material on maps is sketchy. While mostly good, it is also distractedly didactic. While a must-have in any collection on data visualizations, for people looking for only one book on effective data visualizations, this is not it.
This book is like the poetry of visualizations; you will need to supplement it with books that are the prose of visualizations - see suggestions at the end of the review.

Why 3 Stars???
I initially gave this four stars, but then changed it to three stars. This may seem harsh, but hear me out. There is lots that is good in the book. However, this book's focus is more on cartography and maps. And this is where it falls short. It does not address the issue of map based visualizations in any sort of depth. Not much space is devoted to the different types of map based visualizations - dot plots, qualitative and quantitative choropleths (color patches), heatmaps, proportional bars, 3D maps, maps with variable sized markers, isopleths, flow maps, dot-location maps, graduated symbol maps, and much, much, more. The other reason for deducting two stars is the fact that this book, in 2009, does read a bit dated. It is a beautifully laid out book, that almost falls into the coffee-table book category, but looking beyond that, the material does show its age. 10 or 15 years ago the rating would have been 4 or 5 stars. Perhaps unfair on my part...

On the topic of spatial maps, Tufte highlights a problem that may emerge with conventional choropleths (blot maps): "(they)... paint over areas formed by given geographic or political boundaries ...
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By A Customer on August 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Envisioning Information is Tufte's best work. It is a catalog of world class information design examples, culled by the author. He has collected examples from sources as diverse as Gallileo's observations of Saturn, a 3D map of a Japanese shrine, a visual "proof" of Pythagoras' theorem, color studies by the artist Joseph Albers, and a New York train schedule.
This is not a "how to" book, but rather a group of inspiring examples showing any would be information designer the concepts behind the execution of these superb examples.The concepts are painstakingly argued and illustrated. Tufte is obsessed with quality - the book is printed on 100% rag paper using old fashioned lead type because he believes this yields the highest quality results. One of the best books I have ever read when it comes to visual design!
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Format: Hardcover
Edward Tufte sees things most of us do not initially, then manages to render his vision in exquisitely illustrated, well-written texts. He identifies the attributes of effective communication of information and then illustrates what works and why in very understandable terms.
For instance, in his chapter "Layering and Separation," Tufte dissects the problems with array of marshaling signals then reworks the presentation and provides a step-by-step explanation of his process. His coining of the wonderful notion of an "information prison" shows that his cleverness extends from the visual to the written.
As Tufte writes in his introduction, "The principles of information design are universal-like mathematics-and are not tied to unique features of a particular language or culture." He proves this point amply by drawing on myriad sources and examples.
His comments and insights of the power of color are especially enlightening, and if you have ever been subjected to a particularly hideous PowerPoint slide show where the presenter got more than a bit carried away with the technology, you will be agreeing more than disagreeing with the ideas here.
Finally, I acknowledge there is bound to be some sticker shock associated with Edward Tufte's books. But if you consider the amount and quality of color (which requires special press runs), the quality of the paper, the amount of press time (Tufte oversees and approves the printing), and the vast scope of timeless information contained in each book, then these books are a deal.
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