Author: Edward R. Tufte
Summary: Roy SeGuine
The following is "reminder list" of presentation fundamentals from ET's wonderful book Envisioning Information.
Make the ideas you are trying to convey worthy of the eye to behold.
- Escaping Flatland
- Introduce multiple dimensions on a two-space surface, e.g., time,
compounding, links, etc.
- Focus on the point and not the Pridefully Obvious Presentation -
good design strategies are transparent.
- Study the variations, there are patterns to be found even in chaos.
- Words are a strong deterrent to international communication,
symbols convey messages to all.
- A steady canvas makes for a clearer picture.
- Multiple smallness of images allows local comparisons with the
- Decorate construction, never construct decoration: Pugin.
- Respect the audiences intelligence - construct high quality "maps"
and avoid chartjunk and posterization.
- The ducks of information design are false escapes from the
Flatlands, adding pretend dimensions to impoverished data sets.
- Micro/Macro Readings
- To clarify, add detail.
- Micro/macro information: visualization is condensed, slowed, and
- Artificial boundaries can be a good for dividing up information.
- Stem and leaf plots can save characters and give better visual
- Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of
- Layering and Separation
- 1 + 1 = 3 or more (the space between 2 objects can create new
objects - watch out for clutter.)
- Visual relationships must be in relevant proportion and in harmony
to the substance of ideas, evidence, or data conveyed.
- Macro annotation can help explain micro detail.
- Use light, color, size, space effectively.
- Remove the weight, avoid vibration.
- Clarity is not everything but there is little without it.
- Unless deliberate obscurity is sought, avoid surround words with
boxes and set type above graphics (fewer descending rather than
- Information consists of differences that make a difference.
- Small Multiples
- Comparisons... use a scope of alternatives, a range of options -
show changes in data and not in data frames.
- There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described.
- Comparisons must be enforced within the scope of the eyespan.
- Flatlands within flatlands significantly deepen displays.
- Color and Information
- Above all, do no harm when bringing color to information.
- Use color to label, to measure, to represent or imitate reality,
and to enliven or decorate.
- Large areas of glaring, rich colors or placing bright colors mixed
with whites produce unpleasant, confusing results.
- Color spots against a muted field highlight data and weave an
- Narratives of Space and Time (see book examples)