I’ve came to read this book after reading D. MacKay’s books (1–2), since I just was marvelled by their pretty uncommon presentation.
His books have a very large margin, to provide a lot of space for illustration or remarks. Moreover, his way of graphically visualizing things are always very inspired.
So I decided to follow his example when I’d be writing my Ph.D. dissertation. That’s how I stumbled on the tufte-latex package, and discovered the work of Tufte. I discovered that a dissertation is not a book eventually, and that I should keep the good ol’ format.Still, I was on and tried to learn more about data visualization.
The idea is that it can be really hard to explain a situation with a graph, but it’s still the best way – when you really have quantitative information
Tufte gives a set of rule (such as the ink-to-data ratio) to present things clearly. He gives alot of historical and contemporary example, showing that most of the time poor graphics are just dishonest e.g.,
- trying to show a difference in scale between two object : for a double in quantity, double the size, but quadruple the area.
- if you have almost no information, use interpolation and lots of colors – your boss won’t notice how lame your result is.
- use optical illusions, to provoke confusion
- do not show the baseline
- make pie chart – especially if you make them scattered or 3D style
- (see here for more points)
Besides, the book is quite interesting, and quite beautiful : Taschen should have edited this book, not the crappy “Information Graphics“!