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Graphical Excellence

From an amazing book on communicating in pictures (the graph of Napolean's march into Russia and disastrous retreat is an awesome display of dry statistics rendered into visual clarity):

Graphical excellence is that which gives to the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space ... Five principles produce substantial changes in graphical design: Above all else show the data. Maximize the data-ink ratio [i.e., the % of ink that shows data]. Erase non-data ink. Erase redundant data-ink. Review and edit .... Computers can do powerful things graphically, in part by turning out the hundreds of plots necessary for good data analysis. But at least a few computer graphics only evoke the response, `Isn't it remarkable that the computer can be programmed to draw like this?' instead of `My, what interesting data' ... Forgo chartjunk, including moire vibration, the grid, and the duck.

Edward Tufte, from The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Graphics Press, Box 430, Cheshire, Conn., 86410. Highly recommended, sold by mail order or from Amazon.com books for about $40.

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