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The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  315 ratings  ·  37 reviews
The Truthful Art is an introduction to quantitative thinking and statistical and cartographical representation written specifically for journalists and designers. A follow-up to The Functional Art, it goes into the specifics of how to create functional charts, maps, and graphs. Part 1 in The Truthful Art provides a broad introduction to statistics, written with journalists ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published February 18th 2016 by New Riders Publishing
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Apr 21, 2019 rated it liked it
This may be coming in low for me because I already have some background in the area, and had high expectations.

I wasn't expecting material on stats or manipulation of data, or scientific method, but a good chunk of time is spent on it. What I hoped to learn was a more systematic way of thinking about visualization and going deeper there. This book basically gives you an intro to everything you need to go from zero to visualizing data (conceptually and mathematically, not technically). I like th
Jeff Walker
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: visualization
A very solid introduction to data visualization along with some basic statistics. Primarily aimed at journalists and those with less of a quantitative background (I'm a scientist/engineer). Not much by way of the technical details on how to construct visualizations, but that wasn't the goal of this book. Lot's of great examples from other folks in the field, and plenty of excellent references to check out. Overall a pleasure to read. ...more
Ali Sattari
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is basically about skepticism, scientific method, basic statistics, how not to lie with statistics and then finally visualization. I have to admit I skipped most parts of details of advance visualizations.
Aaron Lee
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Clear and packed with content. I enjoyed this one more than the first book, Functional Art, although it’s probably because this is more geared towards data viz and not illustrated infographics . Definitely recommend this for anyone who is starting or already doing data visualization, as it covers a number of important practical considerations and helpful tips without being dogmatic (subtweet Tufte). It’s probably also a helpful book for anyone who just wants to avoid being misled by charts they ...more
Dimitrios Mistriotis
Although I wanted to absorb as much content as possible, Cairo's book is also a page turner for reasons I cannot explain. So I rushed through it and now will go for the second pass.
I was it helped me further understand some statistics concepts that were a bit vague to me which is one of the reasons I purchased it. Second pass now :-).

Update: Did another re-read of it following the "better to read a good book many times than many bad ones" got also references on where to go next. Thanks Alberto!
Andres Moreira
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: visualization
Everyone must read this book on today society, because we are empowered as human beans if we are more educated.

If you need a crash course into visualization and basic statistics, then go with this one. Alberto is a great storyteller and a clear and sharp mind. This is not just a book about visualization, it's a book about how to do better with data, how to present stories and a how journalism is at everybody's hands if they believe on the power of the story, the data and the people.

Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, dataviz
I really liked the book and the way it was written, which made it a very enjoyable read. Alberto Cairo's writing is one of the strengths of the book.

The "The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication" goes through the different stages of data visualization. From the data collection, to the  the visuals themselves focusing on guidelines and science principles that produces a good and truthful visualization. Also, concepts like p-values, confidence intervals and hypothesis testing are
Michael Scott
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
TODO full review:
+++ Overall, I love this book. It's a thoughtful explanation of both the craft of information visualization (which graph depicts it best? how? why?) and an insightful warning on the ethics of information visualization (should I drop the "wrong" values? how should I emphasize my story while not playing with the minds of the readers unrespectfully? how to spot the damn liars from all these statisticians/data scientists?)
+++ Does not sound preachy on ethics, and at times the tone i
Jan 07, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this book 3.5 stars. There are several failings with this book that kept it from getting a higher rating. The book is not focused on charts and visualizations; there are sections covering statistics. If you don't know the subject already, touching on the basics isn't that useful. Another problem is that the author uses some examples from his own experience working in another country. The trouble is some of the examples are in a foreign language. While the charts are understandable with ex ...more
Risto Hinno
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Visualizing data in a way that it would be correct, beautiful and exiting is difficult. This book is a great introduction to this topic. For beginners there is clear introduction to statistics (simple and graphical). For more advanced readers there are many examples that give inspiration. One of the main ideas I got from this book is that good visualization doesn't always have to be simple, it shouldn't give impression of confidence or clarity when it is lacking in data. Nice read for anybody wh ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think this is what I have been looking for without knowing it. The math of how stats work and the concepts added in with the ability to visualize or see what the data looks like is incredibly helpful. also its fun to read. loved the recommendations and links to other websites/portfolios. keeps for more reading. WIll also look for the next book with is described as more of the actual design side of making things presentable. whereas this was more on the present good information side of things.
Marcello Sequeira
Nov 04, 2020 rated it liked it
The author has made a multi disciplinary topic rather accessible. He combines a conversational style of writing, with academic style references throughout the text.
He does tend to drone on a bit, waxing philosophically, even after the point was made several pages ago. The book length would have been half the size if not for this (& to my mind, an even easier read!)
The number of references provided for those interested in delving deeper is impressive. A good first book on data visualisation to un
Yaru Lin
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"The purpose infographics and data visualization is to enlighten people - not to entertain them, not to sell them products, services, or ideas, but to inform them."

From the ethics of journalism, to statistical fallacies and data communication best practices, these (beautiful glossy) pages are full of ideas that I want to flip through over and over again. The next challenge is finding a purse big enough.

Mel Nguyen
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: data-science
Great book on data visualization - Alberto stressed the importance of presenting data with the truth in mind and to never stray from that path. He also gave lots of advice on how to best present certain types of data and included examples on visually stunning and insightful work from other authors. This book is a checklist data analysts, journalists and designers should always keep in mind before diving into anything.

Lastly, ask questions. Always question what you see.
Rasmus Dahl
Dec 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The textbook I would have liked in my curriculum at my university. The emphasis is on how to present data rather than on the statistical methods. Having a degree with through understanding of all the mathematical definitions for all the statistical methods doesn’t serve you well if you are not able to communicate your findings or insights in a clear understandable manner. This is the pitfall that this book cover.

Well worth the read.
Anneli Kruve-Viil
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Though the book claims to be about data visualization it does a poor job in explaining WHY some graph work and some not, and HOW to prepare a good graph. Page after page is wasted on explaining math on high school level. The part on graphs is more of a graph album then a book to look explanation from.
Leni Krsová
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: datadriven
One of the BEST books about data and its visualisation. Full of valuable resources, good tips and advices on how to deal with everything involving data. Simply great!

P.S.: Take your time with this one, there is a LOT of information you will need to process. But it's totally worth the while.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great book that is thorough, organized well, and well referenced. I would have given it 5 stars but the example images were too hard to read at the sizes included. I wish they would have been bigger to be able to use more easily alongside the text referencing them.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Have in-depth explanation of why and how make visual present the truth. Good to read together with the author’s functional art.
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
Makes me anticipate the 3rd installment in the trilogy: The insightful art
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: work, math, data, data-viz
It is interesting to read about how a journalist thinks about creating compelling visuals.
Iurii Okhmat
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Carlo Capasso
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Basic Visualization with some statistics.
Great job.
Hamish Seamus
Very likeable authorial voice. But the content is no good for someone who's already scientifically literate. It's full of shallow exposition on tangential topics. ...more
Brad Stieber
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is at the top of my list for an introductory look at data analysis and visualization. The chapter on exploratory analysis is especially good.
Sudipta Paul
Nov 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Must read for data journalist.Cookbook for beautiful data visualisation process and communicate an important message to the reader.
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Precision journalism for the new century," writes Alberto Cairo, who describes himself as a journalist, primarily.

Half of this book deals with good visuals, while the other half covers what happens before the design, which covers data exploration, which leads to data visualization. This book blends principles of science, journalism, graphic design, cartography and statistics.

Cairo laments a recent trend in marketing, advertising and public relations that hijacked the term "infographics." Alth
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dataviz
I was already of the big fan of The Functional Art, Alberto Cairo's previous book, and this one is just as good, i.e., excellent. On top of it, it's a gorgeous book, with a ton of examples illustrating all the principles of data visualization Cairo explains, all in glorious colors, demonstrating the power of data visualization. Cairo weaves in some very mild statistical content in there (mostly descriptive stuff). But overall, the book is mostly about using visualization appropriate for the data ...more
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: viz, science
Really good an entertaining, although I'd say it's more about data exploration and communication than visualization. I honestly believe the ones who would benefit the most from this book are engineering students and scientists in general. ...more
Great book - I actually needed the approach for my business, but highly recommended to anyone trying to understand that infographics is all about and how they can help you communicate.
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Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the School of Communication of the University of Miami. The author of several textbooks, he consults with companies and institutions like Google and the Congressional Budget Office on visualizations. He lives in Miami, Florida.

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