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Envisioning Information

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  7,405 ratings  ·  217 reviews
The celebrated design professor here tackles the question of how best to communicate real-life experience in a two-degree format, whether on the printed page or the computer screen. The Whole Earth Review called Envisioning Information a "passionate, elegant revelation."
Unknown Binding, First edition 3rd printing with revisions, 126 pages
Published December 1992 by Graphics Press (first published May 1990)
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Apr 12, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: absolutely no one whatsoever
Shelves: social-science
This makes the third and last of Edward Tufte's books I have (and most likely, will ever) read. I hear he's working on a fifth, but I can't really see the point. He just doesn't seem to have anything new to say. Per my earlier reviews, I found his first book (especially the first 50 pages, which contain almost all the content) to be terrific. His third, a bit lame. This one (the shortest of the three) is simply a confounding, rambling disaster.

I have three reasons to offer here. First, he contin
Eric Phetteplace
Jun 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: designers, statisticians, anyone who has to present data
Shelves: lis-web
While this work is full of brilliant principles & illuminating examples, the prose itself is incredibly disconnected. You can tell that Tufte designed the book page by page & not section by section, or even chapter by chapter. On the one hand, that means that the layouts are often excellent, but on the other merely flipping a page can be a jarring experience as the preceding paragraph fails to relate to the present one. A few times, I even had difficulty telling that the chapter had changed. Eve ...more
Chelsea Lawson
Aug 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I think I had the wrong expectations for this book, so I was left disappointed. "Information" is not quite the same as data. If you're all about data visualization, try Nathan Yau. Tufte had good tips that are generalizable but I didn't find the examples very applicable to the type of things I work with.
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a classic work in the field of information design. Today, you will more often hear the phrase “information visualization” (aka, infovis) to describe the act of representing abstract data in a visual format. The goal is to make the data more accessible to a human, allowing them to gain insights from the information.

The book was written in 1990 and lacks any description of information design for the web save for a few descriptions of color and graphical interfaces. Instead, Tufte focuses o
TK Keanini
Apr 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
If you can't present data in a way that communicates your thoughts or the emergent information, there is no reason to present the data. This book and other Tufte books are fundamental.
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
Apr 11, 2007 rated it liked it
A helpful marketing guide on how to write, draw and give lectures in regards to descriptions of meaningful figures and diagrams that piques both the audience's retina as well as their neural cells where information is swallowed and later dissolved into their jugular veins where internally the audience can know what is being described in their own words and understanding :)
Nikhil Thota
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a novice into the world of Data Science and Information Design, I thoroughly enjoyed poring through this book its illustrations. From a structural standpoint, it's designed beautifully, taking into consideration the points that Tufte hammers home throughout the book:

* Consider the user's field of view e.g. don't include text about a diagram that was on the previous page — the user will lose context easily.
* Use multiple examples of the same idea, approached from a different lens to better pr
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
If ever you could judge a book by its cover, it's this one. Literally, the six main topics are listed on the cover. Of course, you don't know what they really mean yet, but you could probably take a guess and get really close. This book has even fewer operational insights than his "Visual Display of Quantitative Information" book did, and a lot of the content seems to be borrowed from that book but cast in a slightly different light. I think Tufte makes justifiable summaries of good visualizatio ...more
Graphic design concepts from 1990.

Why I picked it up: On the Navy's Professional Reading list.

Why I finished it: Dated and while I think that same design is timeless... this isn't it. Computer graphics have changed the way that we can share and interpret visual data. And we are not limited to printing it out any more... just consider all the information that is shared/conveyed by super-imposing one photo on another. The classic before and after with the slide bar...
Eric Martin
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a great book with a lot of examples from around the world. Its only fault is its brevity.
Blakey Boy
begrudgingly bought this for a class and it quickly became the most interesting book i’d ever picked up and then i immediately spilled water ALL over it
Laurian Vega
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Tom panning
Shelves: ux
This is the second book that was picked for the UX book club at work.

I've only seriously read two of Tufte's books. I've skimmed the other two and his pamphlets and taking bits and pieces from them that were convenient for what I was looking for. So when Tufte was brought up in the book club I was happy to push for this one that I hadn't had a chance to read as thoroughly as I would have liked.

Information is just about the cornerstone of the work that I do. The people I design software for have
Todd Stockslager
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Tufte follows up his debut classic with an even more beautiful piece of graphic art disguised as a guide to ways to display three (and more) dimensions on a flat surface.

While even more beautifully crafted than The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd edition, it has less in the way of practical guidance. Tufte's principle here can be reduced to this far-reaching but not so simply-implemented statement: increase the resolution of "flatland" (paper or computer screen) to show more data
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Even though there are several anachronisms in this book owing to the date of publication, particularly when discussing the limitations of computerized plotting, it is still shockingly relevant. I'm not sure I 100% agree with his thesis on visualization, which sometimes results in very noisy plots, even with all of his attempts to reduce the noise. This is especially evident in some of the transit figures, like the shinkansen schedule for planning purposes. That being said, the emphasis on approp ...more
Bram van der Heijde
Jul 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Very interesting book. Beautifully typeset and printed, and in that way an absolute example of how to visually present your work or information in general.
However, and quite contradictory in that sense, in my opinion it lacks a clear structure and hence it didn't entirely succeed to get its message across. After reading it a first time (I am planning to reread it sometime), I remembered some "tips & tricks", but no clear set of take-away messages.
Sean Billy
May 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who works with the visual representation of information. The book itself is beautiful, the writing is clear, and the drawings work seamlessly to create a comprehensive understanding of different categories of information. I look forward to reading more Edward Tufte.
Margaret Heller
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Fundamental concepts, usually ignored in practice. The point is that presenting information meaningfully is challenging and takes real thought. Simplicity does not create clarity by itself.
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hci
Jul 14, 2016 rated it liked it
I didn't find it to have a particularly strong or clear argument, but plenty of interesting examples and points.
Andrew Dale
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is not really too different from Edward R. Tufte's first work, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.

That is not really a bad thing though, if you appreciate it for what it is: a beautifully-arranged collection of fascinating illustrations of data from different eras and all over the globe. The amount of archival research that must have gone into this book is truly impressive: there are images from as early as the 1600s all the way up until the 1980s, and from places as far a
Titania Remakes the World
ABSTRACT: How to Design Information, Communicate effectively, powerfully (like a nuclear-warhead) using data analysis and how to make it so people can comprehend it; Intro to How to use Data Analysis,

" "This book celebrates escapes from the flatlands of both paper and computer screen, showing superb displays of high-dimensional complex data. The most design-oriented of Edward Tufte's books, Envisioning Information shows maps, charts, scientific presentations, diagrams, computer interfaces, stat
Andrew Thappa
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I picked up "Envisioning Information" from the library and will say that if you have the opportunity: read a physical copy of the book rather than a digital copy. The central theme of the book is that we always want to maximize understanding of complex data with an "economy of means." The book describes some principles Tufte sees as central to the presentation of complex data. Generally, statistics classes pay lip service to some of these clichés such as "Confusion and clutter are failures or de ...more
I like Edward Tufte. I appreciate his view on self exemplifying documents and the need for intelligent and beautiful design of information. I've browsed three of his large books: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Beautiful Evidence, and Envisioning Information. While they are all beautiful books and very interesting, I can't help wishing they had a higher usability factor. He wants the reader to move slowly and study each example as he has, which has merit, to be sure, but the larg ...more
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: data-viz
This is the only book by Tufte I've read so far. And, knowing how everyone in data viz community adores his work, I expected more from it. I really liked that the beautiful and informative examples in the book come from wide range of sources, they are not all "western" and from the time the book was written. It's certainly worth looking deeper into some of them like Oliver Bryne's The Elements of Euclid. I think there's a lot to learn about the art of visual explanation from it.
In "Envisioning I
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While this was not as eye-opening an experience as when I first read The Non-Designer's Design Book, it was still an amazing book that introduced me to many new ideas (and bad patterns) around visual design for conveying information. Lots of beautiful examples, from an unbelievably wide gamut of periods and sources, and yet carefully grouped into coherent themes. The concepts were a little more advanced than those in The Non-Designer's Design Book, so I think it will take another reading or two ...more
Gabriel Pinkus
"To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees." - Garry Winogrand

"it is all right to decorate construction, but never construct decoration." - Edward Tufte

"Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information." - Edward Tufte

"At the heart of quantitative reasoning is a single question: Compared to what?" - Edward Tufte

"Information consists of differences that make a difference." - Edward Tufte

Space-time consists of four (4) dimensions. Information, many more. How do
Vytas Ramanauskas
Apr 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: list-for-20-20
This was the first book by Edward R. Tufte I've read.

Well, the illustrations made me really excited at first, but I can tell that not all of them are truly relevant to a designer, who designs stuff for screens. Some parts, like the music and dance illustrations, were just for fun, I'd say.

Nevertheless, some really useful observations about the 'flatland', and turning the real-life situations to the paper land. Also, the table design and cartography design tips can be really applied to your nex
Poshi Getoshi
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading this after “Beautiful Evidence” is a bit frustration, because this EI is more like a collection of annotated illustrations organized thematically into chapters. But book design is high level and pure joy to hold and flip through pages.
There were some parts I found hard to comprehend because of lack of semantic clarity.
It’s still Tufte though and you can gain much about visualizing the world.
Richard Latham
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Eye opening book on the art and science behind data visualization. Does an amazing job of pulling in a wide range of examples from different parts of the world and many different disciplines. Does lack in communicating clear messages about how the provided examples can fit together to inform a practical toolkit.
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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

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“What about confusing clutter? Information overload? Doesn't data have to be "boiled down" and "simplified"? These common questions miss the point, for the quantity of detail is an issue completely separate from the difficulty of reading. Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information.” 25 likes
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