Data Visualisation books
June 29, 2017

Data Visualisation books – our third set of resources for you

By Paul Laughlin

During our month with more focus on Data Visualisation, we should not overlook data visualisation books.

I hope our previous posts, focussing on Data Viz blogs and twitter experts have helped your personal development. But, even in this digital age, we should not overlook the power of books.

Whether you invest in hard copy or digital versions, the longer form of books often gives opportunity to better structure information for self-development. So, to complement those earlier resources, in this post I am going to recommend a number of books from 9 experts.

Many of these experts are the same people I have recommended for blogs & tweets, but there are 4 new experts. I’ll leave you to spot which are different. Plus, enjoy this treasure trove of 11 data visualisation books from 9 Data Viz experts.

Edward Tufte

Let’s start with the ‘Don’ of Data Visualisation, at least as far as I’m concerned. Most of his books are classics in this field, but one stands out as the articulation of his design principles. In ‘The Visual Display of Quantitative Information‘, Tufte both explains his design principles and gives useful positive & negative examples. Worth having a reference copy.

Edward Tufte: Books – The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

The classic book on statistical graphics, charts, tables. Theory and practice in the design of data graphics, 250 illustrations of the best (and a few of the worst) statistical graphics, with detailed analysis of how to display data for precise, effective, quick analysis. Design of the high-resolution displays, small multiples.

Alberto Cairo

Another expert I have recommended previously. Being a professor of journalism, Alberto’s books are geared toward a wider audience (not just data professionals), which is useful for those needing to communicate within businesses. His first two books are worth considering, as they cover the fundamentals of data usage, statistics & data visualisation.

The Functional Art

The Functional Art is an introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization, the communication of facts and data by means of charts, graphs, maps, and diagrams. It includes a DVD including 90 minutes of video lectures.

The Truthful Art

Review by Kaiser Fung (JunkCharts) *Review by Gretchen Peterson *Review by Andy Cotgreave (Tableau) *Review by Techinfographics *Review at Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly *Review at The Data School *Review by The Cranky Sociologists *Review by Steve Wexler (Data Revelations) *Review by Alan Smith (The Financial Times) * Review by Koen Verbeeck Praise for The Truthful Art: “Alberto Cairo is widely acknowledged as journalism’s preeminent visualization wiz.

Jorge Camoes

So many analysts (of all flavours) are still using Excel as their primary data visualisation tool (to supplement Word docs or PowerPoint presentations), so its useful to have an author who uses that tool too. All the visuals, in Jorge’s “Data at Work” book, are produced in Excel and his companion website allows you to download them in Excel to see for yourself. A really useful addition to current literature on data viz principles and implementations.

Data at Work – Companion site for the book. And more.

Welcome. This is the companion website for the book Data at Work: Best practices for creating effective charts and information graphics in Microsoft Excel. Here you’ll find the original Excel files I used in the book. Feel free to download them.

Stephen Few

Talking of commercial applications in businesses, that is the focus of Stephen’s books on how to present data effectively & strategically. Lots of helpful tips for analysts & leaders in his books. Of those listed in this library, I’d recommend “Show Me the Numbers” and “Now you See It…”.

Andy Kirk

Returning to another author whom I’ve already recommended as a blogger, Andy brings some design thinking structure to data visualisation development. He is one of the few authors to offer a system to conceptualise & develop data visualisations.

Book – Visualising Data

The aim of this book is to help people to become better visual communicators of data through the optimisation of creative, analytical and contextual decision-making. The specific purpose of the second edition is to take the opportunity to make desired edits to the contents that reflect how my own convictions have evolved, and the way I communicate them, in the years that have passed since completing the first edition.

Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

I’ve done one step better on gender balance in this list, as Cole is the first of three recommended female authors. Her book is a helpful introduction to data visualisation. She also goes beyond individual visualisations, to advise on pairing text with graphics and using a series of visualisations to tell a story or lead a reader to a conclusion. A great place for leaders to start.

Jon Schwabish

Jon provides a host of different helpful resources within his PolicyViz shop, but his recommended book is especially relevant for academics or data scientists working with data-intensive content. “Better Presentations…” details strategies for developing clear and visually captivating presentations with sophisticated data visualisation.

Better Presentations – Policy Viz

I wrote my book on presentation skills to help you-the data analyst, researcher, or scholar-improve the way you conceptualize, create, and deliver your presentations. I want to show you a better way to deliver your content so that it will be remembered and acted upon.

Naomi Robbins

Our second recommended woman, has authored a succinct guide for creating effective graphs. In “Creating More Effective Graphs“, Naomi provides the basic knowledge & techniques needed to improve your graphs, to be more appropriate & effective.

Recommended Books ” NBR | Offers Businesses Seminars and Consulting on Better Charts and Graphs

Creating More Effective Graphs gives you the basic knowledge and techniques required to choose and create appropriate graphs for a broad range of applications. Using real-world examples everyone can relate to, it highlights some of today’s most effective methods. In clear, concise language, it answers such common questions as: What constitutes an effective graph for communicating data?

Dona Wong

Last, but not least, Dona shares from her expertise as one the team producing the Wall Street Journal’s excellent examples of Data Visualisation. Helpfully, she dedicates individual pages to different useful chart types. Providing advice on how to select the most appropriate chart type for the information you need to communicate. Her clarity of thinking & rigour are not surprising as she was a student of Edward Tufte (thus nicely closing our list with a nod to the start).

The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics

The definitive guide to the graphic presentation of information., The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics, The Dos and Don’ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures, Dona M Wong, 9780393347289

Any data visualisation books you’d recommend?

I hope this third & final list of ‘data viz’ resources is helpful for you. Please do share any data visualisation books you’d recommend. Is there any text that has helped improve your use of charts etc?

Beyond that, it would be great to see your feedback on any of our data visualisation resources posts. If you have blogs or twitter experts to recommend, please do.

That’s it for our month focussed (more anyway) on data visualisation. Let me know if you’d like us to return to this topic in more depth in future.