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The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  709 ratings  ·  68 reviews
In today’s data-driven world, professionals need to know how to express themselves in the language of graphics effectively and eloquently. Yet information graphics is rarely taught in schools or is the focus of on-the-job training. Now, for the first time, Dona M. Wong, a student of the information graphics pioneer Edward Tufte, makes this material available for all of us. ...more
Hardcover, 162 pages
Published January 4th 2010 by W. W. Norton Company (first published January 4th 2009)
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Mar 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
The WSJ Guide to Information Graphics is an essential read for anyone whose job involves presentation of data and information. The book reads like a style guide, providing underlying methods for creating clear and informative charts and information graphics.

Dona Wong was a former student of two designers I admire, Paul Rand and Edward Tufte. While she successfully follows in their footsteps in terms of design expertise, the book is missing the character and wit found in books by Rand or Tufte, m
To be fair to Ms. Dono M. Wong the first two causes of my disappointment with The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information graphics are on me. It is a short book. How many of us check the page count on prospective book buys. The 160 pages are slightly less information dense than they could be because space is used in a way more like an information graphic and less like a text. The second problem I lay on my head is that a fair slice of the Guide focuses on reporting Wall Street as in stocks, mon ...more
May 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Useful reference book for someone who is new to data visualisation and wants to avoid basic mistakes without diving deep into the subject. Those with more profound interest should look elsewhere (start with Tufte).
Michael Scott
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: design
TODO full review:
+ Quick read with summaries of the key elements of information visualization. Think Stephen Few reduced to its essence. Can read in 30 minutes, reuse when needed.
+++ Covers in brief: fonts, colors, and typography; charts with lines, vertical and horizontal bars, pies, pictograms, and (so very briefly) maps; tables (good idea: add horizontal bars for the dominant piece of information -- Tufte would immediately ask for a sparkline, to densify the use of space); and special charts
Chris  - Quarter Press Editor
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For what it is, I enjoyed this book.

It's straight to the point, full of solid information, and is designed to reflect what it preaches.

I'm assuming that if you've been working with graphics and figures and tables for awhile, much of this won't be new. But for those like me, who have a basic understanding of why some things work and some things don't, this deepened my knowledge and gave me concrete items to list when something simply felt "off."

Again, this probably isn't for graphic designers or
Scott Harris
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Having looked for some time for a reasonably comprehensive, yet accessible resource for helping to guide the formulation of data visualization, Wong does an excellent job in this resource. Presenting data is an essential in today's business world and yet the vast majority of people do a very poor job of making information accessible. This book helps to highlight the challenges and to avoid the common mistakes. ...more
Affad Shaikh
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was a chore to read. Its dry, at times its minimalist/essentialist tendencies come off as incredibly cryptic. However, overall the information presented is accessible, it is informative to the point of being standardized presentation of data in charts. I realize that you could completely get by without reading page for page of the book, utilizing it solely as a desk reference. I intend very much to do that, however, in reading the book I gained a baseline understanding of what I presum ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, turingy, ebook
I would say the book is especially suitable for beginners or people who want to generate clear readable graphics without getting too deep into design and art.

The introduction declares this as a suitable handbook to have on the table if you are working with data visualization and I would fully agree with that. I appreciated the presentation of antipatterns next to the suggested way of presenting and even the brevity of the text. If this is meant to be a reference, the information should not be bu
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This compact text contains, to large extent, the dicta you will have encountered in any adjacent work -- whether science, journalism, business. However the form of the book, fitting the message, makes it easy to digest, and I did glean a few useful lessons:

- The author is very hostile to angled type, and suggests rotating the chart instead.
- I learned what "leading" and "pica" in typography are.
- Colored charts should be legible in black & white, even if they will never be seen that way.
- No mor
Jo Law
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-and-design
This is the perfect reference book for anyone new to data visualisation for editorial use, covering common mistakes such as bad typography, colour contrast, and data order. It's not the most comprehensive guide (other reviewers have suggested more detailed books) but studying and utilising all the rules contained within this book can vastly improve data comprehension for the reader.

Information design and data visualisation is a massive field; you're not going to get the full works from this tiny
Nick Klagge
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Dona Wong now works at my employer, so I thought it would be interesting to read her book. It came highly recommended by a couple of friends. I'll admit that I was skeptical that it would be of interest to me, because I feel like I'm pretty good at data visualization. I was partly right in that there weren't a ton of new insights for me, but there were definitely some good ideas that I hadn't encountered before.

The book is admirably straightforward and spare, except for the end part, where ther
Emily Mozzone
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book would definitely be most suitable for someone with only basic graphic design experience. I have a degree in graphic design, so I found a lot of the information in this book repetitive despite not having any formal education on or experience with information graphics. The math section would've been very useful if I was actively working on an information graphics project, but it's far too technical to remember in the future. If you make a lot of PowerPoints, this would be great for you! ...more
Francis Gagnon
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is probably the best entry point to proper data visualization. The author is as mindful of her clear and concise writing as she is of her graphs. Most ideas are contained within a page or a spread. It is very easy to read and makes for an excellent reference book afterwards. It is not groundbreaking, but even for professionals, it is a quick read and one can always learn from someone’s systematic tackling of expertise. I will recommend it widely.
Michael Gaudet
When it comes to diagrams, less noise lets the data speak louder! A great guide to creating visually impactful, simple, charts and graphs. Lots of great examples, although most are currency- and stock-centric (no surprise coming from the WSJ). Still, the guidelines Dona describes are applicable to any domain.
A. Luca
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A brisk introduction to creating effective data visualizations, recommended for a general audience. While it is sparely laid out like a desk guide and could be used as such, it does a great job of drilling in the tenets so that good design decisions become intuitive.

I’d recommend to anyone who ever has to make a graph, from high school students and up.
Andres Moreira
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-the-stack
Highly recommend!

This book is a reference, the way is written help you focus on the message rather than distracting you with a story. I have read a few visualization books and this is the one I will have on my desk.
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very concise explanations. Contrasts "good" layouts with weaker layouts on facing pages.

There is an unfortunate graphic on page 94 which is supposed to explain the me as n, median, and mode. The median is just plain wrong.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics, art
Very hands-on and useful guide. I didn't agree with every recommendation, but overall it is a great resource. ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Vicky by: Kevin Hartman's Web Analytics course
Shelves: data
I take this as the Strunk & White-like guide for data visualization, which is nice to keep on the shelf in my office, but no one likes to be told dos and don'ts. ...more
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's like a prettier and better organized Elements of Style for data artists. ...more
Natalia Horst
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good reference book highlighting key concepts of making better information graphics. Handy reference guide with visual examples. Great intro to the topic.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very clear and gave me the info I need. Borrowed from library but may purchase as I think would be good to have to refer to later.
Guglielmo Tognon
Feb 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Nice first introduction for analyst or beginners but a bit basic afterwards
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent for anybody who understands the potential of data for story-telling.
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was good. Clear, concise and useful even with a background of both design and data science. Recommend.
Manuel Frias
A nice little book to learn the very basics of chart making. I liked that it summarises very shortly and concisely the fundamentals but if you want depth this book is not for you.
Tiffany Ye
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tool
Good information graphics are about considering human perceptions and exploiting that to the best.
Weibo  Xiong
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
A nice book, but a little bit expensive (which cost me HK$300)
John Brian Anderson
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: tech, business, coreb
Basic but good primer. Follow these basic steps and your information presentations will be neater, cleaner and more informative. Kept wishing for more, though.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, data-viz
Super practical if not a little dry. I like how short and concise it was. No fluff and good, bare bones examples to illustrate the point.
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