Tuesday

Presenting data as pictures

I've spent some time on this blog covering successful representations of data (also here), not to mention some less successful efforts. Today's NY Times includes a review of a book, "Visual Strategies," intended to help people designing visual presentations of data.

The review is worth reading as one of your ten (only 10!) articles if you're not a subscriber. In case you want to skip it, here are the main lessons the reviewer pulls from the book:

¶ Consider how the graphic will be used, and by whom.
¶ Choose a design vernacular: Will you use cartoons, charts, sketches, photos or other elements?
¶ Organize the elements of your graphic and know how they relate to one another.
¶ Identify what’s essential (and, by implication, what can be dropped).
¶ Use color to draw attention, to label things that relate to one another or to express elements like scale.
¶ Add other variables as needed.
¶ Edit and refine. Reduce visual clutter. (Or as [Edward] Tufte once put it, realize that every drop of ink must be in there for a reason.)
If you want to dig a little deeper, go to the Visual Strategies website. I found this story, about the design of a cover story about new understanding of the proton for American Scientist magazine, particularly interesting for its discussion of the process -- including mistakes -- and how much the editors learned by talking with the graphic artists about the picture they were creating.

Screenshot via visual-strategies.org

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