Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” as Want to Read:
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  7,555 ratings  ·  521 reviews
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. Editing and improving graphics. The data-ink ...more
Hardcover, 2nd, 197 pages
Published 2001 by Graphics Press (first published 1983)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Gautam Doshi Try Python. Coursera also has some great courses on it. Plus, Python is free - unlike softwares like Tableau. Python has a massive support system and …moreTry Python. Coursera also has some great courses on it. Plus, Python is free - unlike softwares like Tableau. Python has a massive support system and is open source as well.

If you wanted mere 'drag and drop' options, there are several tools online that could possibly help you visualize the data set of your choice but I think those tools will consider fairly simpler data. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,555 ratings  ·  521 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Zanna by: Tony Bleasdale
Shelves: stem
When I started secondary school I was mildly apprehensive about 'physics', an unfamiliar word that elicited an actual shudder from my mother. Fortunately, my elderly teacher had an infectious affection for his subject. I remember that he noticed me examining the monthly night-sky chart pinned to the classroom door, and thereafter would print off an extra copy specially and wordlessly hand it to me if he saw me in the corridor (never in class, not wishing to embarrass me*) Our first lessons tried ...more
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. I read this book because 1) as a scientist, I care a lot about visualizing information in ways that are both meaningful and attractive, and 2) this book is hailed as a classic and cited by many when discussing what constitutes a good graphic. After eying it on many coffee tables and office bookshelves, I finally decided to pick it up from the library. I'm glad that I didn't buy it.

There are some positives: a few inspiring examples of creative, precise designs that tell a story and re
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
Apr 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: what-nonfiction
Edward Tufte is brilliant. His books, including this one, are artwork disguised as a textbook. The purpose of all three is to explain both good and bad ways of explaining information but they are so much more than that. There is a rich history interwoven in the books' pages. The examples are so interesting that I found myself learning more than just how to convey information. For example, one of the best graphics for conveying information ever made is a chart/map tracking Napoleon Bonaparte's ar ...more
Roger Wood
The book led was one of the most enlightening books that I've every read. I've always had a penchant for using numbers, images, and heuristics to explain, and began taking Edward Tufte's courses when the opportunity arose, starting in 1998. He held them in hotel ballrooms throughout the United States, and his followers attended with cult-like repetition, sometimes registering for the same course 6 times in one year.

Edward Tufte is one of the most elegant designers of information alive today, the
Daniel Rekshan
Apr 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: programming
People have told me to read this book for years and I've always been impressed by the strength of their recommendations.

However, on reading this book, I was initially underwhelmed. I felt like Tufte was just rehashing common sense about graphs. I read through it and found myself saying, 'yeah yeah, I get it.'

On reflection a week after finishing, I realized this book is genius. Tufte concisely and clearly articulates principles, which should be common sense, so well that they have appearance to b
Mar 31, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who has to illustrate a report or presentation
Shelves: social-science
Well, 3 1/2 stars, really, but GoodReads won't permit that. Don't let the horrifically dull title fool you. Edward Tufte knows a thing or two about chart design, to say the least (he's built a second career on this obsession). Think this is dull stuff? Ha, and again I say ha. It's darn sexy. Don't believe me? Consider this consequence of the era of optimism or this version of Little Red Riding Hood or this nifty day-in-the-life or this graphic design shop which is such a brilliant specialist in ...more
Jan 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a book about graphs.

How, you ask, could anyone write a book about graphs, let alone read one? Surely you've never found the sex appeal of a bar chart, the seductiveness of a scatterplot. Well my friend, you simply have never realized the power of a well-designed graph.

Tufte took on the challenge of making visual information interesting decades ago, and it's still considered one of the top 100 books of the 20th century. He shows examples of what the best displays and worst displays are i
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
I think it is safe to say that two monumental names of data-viz are bound to be recurrently recognised - the eye catching master of data pop-art David McCandless and the creator of beautifully simple and elegant data display Edward Tufte. Both of these data visualisers have some overlap - both are, after all, incredibly capable of transmitting complex data and information in striking displays - but it is Tufte's love of simplicity and worship of data that renders him a phenomenal graphical visua ...more
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
One-sentence summary:
The graphical analogue of Elements of Style: obvious (avoid junk!), useless, contradictory, and wrong.

Don't understand the hype about this book; it's super outdated (refers mainly to hand-drawn-ish charts; and considering most of use standard tools to create our visualizations, not sure how we're supposed to actually implement his suggestions), and a lot of the advice and "good" examples (Marey's train schedule? Come on!) are horrible (and even contradictory -- at one point
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Although originally published in 1983, when professional graphics artists prepared most of the charts and graphs used in presentations and official publications, this book remains useful for anyone who wishes to convey information clearly and concisely.

I can remember a job early in my career when all presentations had to be approved by two levels of management, then submitted to the graphics shop at least a week before they were to be used, and what came back was an inter-office envelope full o
Coop Williams
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Entertaining and illustrative. Tufte shows strong examples of both elegant and ghastly designs, taking several opportunities to improve the latter with surgical erasure. These examples form the basis for a set of now-canonized principles.

The only part I really disagreed with was the beginning of chapter 6, wherein the author proposes revising the box plot design by reducing it to a mere point floating between two lines, with only white space to represent the size of the interquartile range. It l
Michael Burnam-Fink
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information is an absolute classic on the creation and use of graphs. Done correctly, a good graph can make complex information instantly comprehensible, reveal relationships and patterns, and both delight and inform. Done poorly, a bad graph causes eyestrain, confusion, and the deliberate obfuscation of the truth. And in a world where graphs are ordinary, Tufte provides a quick history of how they came to be, and the cognitive leaps required.

Tufte rails agains
Josh Friedlander
Most of Tufte's critiques of ugly and dishonest data visualisation have been long internalised, in our age of 538 and "data journalism". But this {art/architecture/graphic design}-informed book is still an engaging read, despite occasional bursts of pomposity. ...more
Shan Zhong
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Definitely my favorite printed book
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Never was a dude so salty about bad graphs and bad data. Humorous as well as clever.
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
Before going into the review itself, a comment on a slight oddity of the book (which will become important in the review): The copy I read is the 7th printing (March 2011) of the second edition (originally published in 2001; the first edition was published in 1982). The reason I bring this up is a discrepancy not mentioned anywhere in/on the book or on any website I could find. At least one chapter has been rewritten (or added) since the second edition was originally published. Chapter 8 contain ...more
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: visualisation

It's good, I guess I’m knocking a star off because it focuses on paper-based graphs as opposed to computer ones (not really the fault of the book as it was first published in 1983).

The book is like the graph equivalent of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style. Where Strunk says ‘Omit needless words.’, Tufte says ‘Omit needless ink.’ (I’m paraphrasing). Despite concerning itself with paper-based graphs, the concepts still apply, and if I took one lesson from the book, it’s to let the data shine
Michael Economy
May 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Michael by: Ken-ichi
Shelves: work-related
I'm imaging tufte writing up this rant in a basement with "we're not gonna take it" blaring in the background, every few paragraphs he mumbles something like "this will show them!" to himself.

Section two is pretty much the kind of five paragraph essay I was required to write in school. It's not very often someone makes an argument that hard.

Overall, this book is awesome, the book isn't 100% up to date, but the same complains with visualizations would still apply.

I'm all amped up to create lots o
Nov 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I discovered Tufte when I was collecting movable books and this showed up in my bookstore with a pop-up pyramid in it. I found out later that he had self-published this title because no printer or publisher he approached wanted to do the pop-up and he was determined to have it.

It's a wonderful explication of the ways in which to analyze data and figure out how to present it in clean, efficient ways that slide the information into waiting minds.


And anybody who enjoys this book will lik
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Interesting subject matter but incredibly pompous author.
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I went to a Tufte course and four of his publications were given out as part of the course fee. This is the first one he published on this subject, and the first I've read. Overall, if you've never made a statistical graphic, this covers some of the basics but it feels a bit dated as well. Read this book if you're looking for some history on the subject of plotting data, and plenty of opinions from the (well-respected) author.

I'm no stranger to making statistical graphics, it's a task that comes
Mar 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Light read, though sometimes the book judged me for having used histograms to display about 5 datapoints. He would even make me quantify how intensely I should‘ve just used a table by calculating his „waste of ink“ data-ink ratio.

„Above all else show the data.

The principle is the basis for a theory of data graphics“

The book is a nice collection of the good, the bad, and the really bad graphs. Among the bad are artsy graphics, that for example use the height of three-dimensional objects like oi
Kjetil Endresen
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was a joy to read.

The book is essentially about graphical display of information, like the graphs we put in our powerpoints and maps in our texts. It is not a gallery of modern and beautiful visualizations as could be expected, rather, it takes on the history and creation of visualizing data in the 1600s and forward, and giving some general principles that goes for all display of information. He talks about data pr. square centimeter and suggest that the human eye can see differences d
Vishal Katariya
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an experience. You may find it strange that I look upon this book almost reverentially, for it is merely an exposition of what constitutes good graphic design for data visualization. However, this is no ordinary exposition: Edward Tufte is unquestionably one of the masters at the forefront in this task, and he does a thorough job of describing some heuristics and "laws" for what make good graphs, plots, maps and so on. Given his mastery of the subject, I allowed for his sometimes brazen rul ...more
Mehran Jalali
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Navid Rashidian
Recommended to Mehran by: Randall Munroe
The main point was: a good graph is one that gives to the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space.

Fascinating books, with fascinating charts -- both graphically and information-wise.

This should be mandatory reading for everyone who will ever draw a graph in their life. It is simply amazing.

The teachings bordered on my intuition for graph design, so I'll give it a 4.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thought the book followed the principles the author was talking about, making the book an example of its thesis. It was a lot more pleasant and engaging than I was afraid it would be. I think it deserves its reputation as a must-read for those interested in data visualization.
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design-etc
this guy HATES the New York Times
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this at the wrong time, without really much appreciating all the information presented. To get the most of this book, you should already be working with data, and facing the design decisions treated here.
Andrew Greatorex
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Above all else show the data." ...more
Dominik Straub
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pop-science
This book has improved my data visualizations, but also the way I think about data in general. Unfortunately, it ruins pretty much every paper I read...
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals
  • Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design
  • Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics
  • The Design of Everyday Things
  • Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
  • Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data
  • The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication
  • The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization
  • Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things
  • Information is Beautiful
  • Info We Trust: How to Inspire the World with Data
  • A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload
  • How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information
  • R for Data Science: Import, Tidy, Transform, Visualize, and Model Data
  • Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten
  • Data Visualisation: A Handbook for Data Driven Design
  • Fundamentals of Data Visualization: A Primer on Making Informative and Compelling Figures
  • Visual Thinking: For Design
See similar books…

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »
Edward Rolf Tufte (born 1942 in Kansas City, Missouri to Virginia and Edward E. Tufte), a professor emeritus of statistics, graphic design, and political economy at Yale University has been described by The New York Times as "the Leonardo da Vinci of Data". He is an expert in the presentation of informational graphics such as charts and diagrams, and is a fellow of the American Statistical Associa ...more

News & Interviews

Sally Thorne, author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine, explores what it means to take risks for love, and for yourself, in her newest...
99 likes · 10 comments
“Above all else show the data.” 26 likes
“Graphical excellence is that which gives to the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space.” 15 likes
More quotes…