At their best, graphics are instruments for reasoning about quantitative information

Mostly from the books Envisioning Information and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte

High density visualization

High-density designs allow viewers to select, to narrate, to recast and personalize data for their own uses.

The control of information is given over to viewers, not to editors, designers, or decorators

Thin data prompts suspicions: “What are they leaving out? Is that really everything they know? What are they hiding? Is that all they did?”

It is not how much information there is, but rather how effectively it is arranged.

Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information


Fundamental uses of colour in information design

  • To label (colour as noun)
  • To measure (colour as quantity)
  • To represent or imitate reality (colour as representation)
  • To enliven it decorate


See also: time

The problem with time-series is that the simple passage of time is not a good explanatory variable: descriptive chronology is not causal explanation. However, time-series plots can be moved toward causal explanation by smuggling additional variables into the graphic design

One of the deepest and most powerful ideas in mathematics is the relationship between a differential formulation (such as a step-by-step process, like our “draw” function) and its integrated form (such as a function of time, or plot over time). (from Learnable Programming)

Source and catalogue

Serving simultaneously as images, equations, and verbal summaries, Feynmann diagrams are multimodal and thus, in practice, often modeless

General rules of thumbs:

  • Focus on causality. Uncertainties in causal links can sometimes be shown graphically; the SARS diagram indicates uncertain transmission routes with dotted arrows
  • Multiple sources and levels of data
  • Annotated linking lines. Links and arrows should have an appropriate specificity: when and how the link operates, strength and persistence of the link, credibility of evidence supporting the link
  • Annotated nouns. Things in diagrams should be appropriately described