David Hughes's Reviews > The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte
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's review
Apr 16, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: nonfiction, treasured
Recommended for: engineers, scientists, technical writers

In The Elements of Style, Strunk and White famously laid out a manifesto for lucid, minimal prose. This book is the equivalent for anyone who needs to put a lot of numbers on one piece of paper.

Like The Elements of Style, this book is not a manual. Though rich with ideas, examples and suggestions, its main contribution is to wake the reader up, to get you thinking about the purpose of numerical graphics, and to describe the basic principles of this kind of communication. What works, and why? and what doesn't work, and why?

Many people describe this book as seminal (sometimes in more than one sense). Personally I lack the expertise to judge, but it certainly opened my eyes to a wider world of possibilities of expressive communication. It also opened my eyes to the gruesome standards of graphical communication that crowd the pages of magazines and beat the sense out of business presentations - and for that I'm not entirely grateful.

Physically, the book is gorgeously produced, a jewel of the typesetter's art. All the more reason to give it a permanent place on my bookshelf.

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