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The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures Paperback – December 16, 2013
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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“An essential reference for anyone who needs to effectively convey quantitative information using graphs. Everyone will learn something from reading this book.”
- Joseph Tracy, executive vice president and director of research, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
“Dona Wong’s outstanding new book artfully blends lessons on data analysis and graphic design. She shows us how to make our complex, confusing graphs and presentations both simple and powerful.”
- Peter Tufano, Coleman Professor of Financial Management, Harvard Business School
“Dona Wong’s professional advice advances the art of information graphics.”
- Gene Zelazny, director of visual communications, McKinsey & Company
“We live in an increasingly data-driven world, and Dona Wong does a masterful job of explaining how to make data come alive and tell the truth in an engaging way.”
- Mark Zandi, chief economist, Moody’s Economy.com
From the Back Cover
Advance Praise for The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics:
“An essential reference for anyone who needs to effectively convey quantitative information using graphs. Everyone will learn something from reading this book.”―Joseph Tracy, executive vice president and director of research, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
“We live in an increasingly data-driven world, and Dona Wong does a masterful job of explaining how to make data come alive and tell the truth in an engaging way.”―Mark Zandi, chief economist, Moody’s Economy.com
“Dona Wong’s professional advice advances the art of information graphics.”―Gene Zelazny, director of visual communications, McKinsey & Company
“Software has made it wonderfully easy to produce graphs and charts to illustrate everything from your company’s capital expenditures to your daughter’s science project. Trouble is, the software won’t stop you from making bad graphics. This book will.”―Paul Steiger, editor in chief of ProPublica, former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal
“Dona Wong’s outstanding new book artfully blends lessons on data analysis and graphic design. She shows us how to make our complex, confusing graphs and presentations both simple and powerful.”―Peter Tufano, Sylvan C. Coleman Professor of Financial Management, Harvard Business School
“An invaluable tool for people from all walks of life―not just designers. Dona Wong has created a practical, clearly illustrated guide that demonstrates information design principles and techniques through numerous dos and don’ts.”―Alan Siegel, chairman and CEO, Siegel+Gale, and best-selling author of The Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Money and Markets --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Further, the author's approach is somewhat naive. A good graphics professional can take a data set and use it to make both (1) a graphic showing significant change, and also (2) a different graphic showing little change at all. This book flatly disagrees, and argues that one data set can only support one conclusion, and that one conclusion must be shown in one certain way. Were that argument in fact correct, scientists would all agree on everything, investment analysts would all have the same recommendations, etc.
Further, the graphics are quite limited, and bland. Any decent biochemistry journal will show a wide variety of graphics: bar charts, bubble charts, photographs, MRI orbital schematics ... really pretty, and really varied, stuff. In contrast, the graphics in this book could all have been done on Lotus 1-2-3 version 1.0: bar charts, line charts and pie charts. The author says she studied graphics with Edward Tufte, but the bland graphics in this book show that while she may have *studied* she perhaps didn't *learn* much.
Further, some of the book's lessons are flat wrong.
I am by nature a bookworm, and particularly treasure my information graphics books. With this book, I've done something which I've never, ever done before with a graphics text: I've given it away to the local public library for their used-book sale. :(
The first chapter covers basic issues like how many colors, what colors, how many lines, etc.. The second, which is the bulk of the book, contrasts effective and poor graphics on side by side pages. There is concise useful advice on truncating ranges, breaking axes, using broken bar graphs, how many pie pieces, etc. The advice is beyond simple do or do not break a bar, it discusses how much of a discrepancy in the height of a bar chart merits a break. While other books have advice that ends with "do or do not use some graphics" (like pie charts), this one has great advice on when it makes sense to do things like break graphics into sets of pictures, use broken bars in bar charts, how and when to set scales (so that graphics afford meaningful comparisons) and how to make the best use of pie charts. There is a short section on descriptive statistics, when to use means, medians, plotting percentages vs actual changes, etc. and there is a surprisingly nice section on the algebra for setting axes which I have never seen written up. The final two chapters deal with specialize topics like plotting financial matters or plotting time series and relations among groups.
The only real down side is there is no discussion of what tools to use to make the graphics or how the graphics in this book were rendered. Despite this, the book is superb because it covers the material in adequate detail and it gives insights that are either not covered at all or are scattered across many sources.
1. Book does not acknowledge that most data graphics will be done usine Microsoft Excel. In fact, this book recommends design that cannot be done with graphing software-- designs that must be done in a graphic software such as Adobe Illustrator, Powerpoint, etc.
2. Book is very biased towards newspaper printing of graphs.
3. Book does not mention that very often graphs are viewed jointly in a presentation and referred to verbally. The book's suggestions on color shading of data element make it impossible to refer to verbally-- if you followed the book, you'd have 4 shades or the same color for bars in a graph-- how would you refer to one specific bar when talking about the graph? Although it is sometimes gaudy, using distince contrasting primary colors makes it easy to refer to data elements in the graph, e.g., "The red bar shows..."
4. Book suggests using log scale. Not only do log scales distort data, who really understands them? NOT recommended by graphics professionals seeking to communicate with the masses.
5. Book suggests using spider graphs. I among those who think they look chaotic and do not communicate well at all. NOT recommended.
6. Book cover violates directive in the book to use white font when placing type on dark background.
7. Book is heavily biased towards display of financial information.