Good conceptual literature on data viz

Hi there!

Are there any good literature about the conceptual aspects of data visualization? In other words, looking for an explanatory article/book/paper/document on how to visualize a data set in cool shiny ways.


Hi gnz :slight_smile: On our site we reference the following platform in the category „how to benefit from data“: Here they link to several pdf guides on how to visualise data (unfortunately mostly in German). If you have other relevant links we would like add them to our Data Café. Have a beautiful day!

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Hello Gnz

There are several manuscripts around. In my opinion „Fundamentals of Data Visualiazation“ by Claus Wilke is a very good book to look up things. It is good structured and accessible.

If you want more focus on the storytelling aspect of data visualization have a look at „Storytelling with data“ by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

Both books are free. Go get them! :wink:

If you really want to dive into concepts of data visualization it might be worth to read the famous „Grammar of Graphics“ by Leland Wilkinson. There are the fundaments Hadley Wickham implemented to program ggplot2. The concepts are also used by other programming languages.

It is not open accessible though and „fat“.

To get an overview about books on data visualization in general it might also be worth to have a look at the books section of the visualizationuniverse.

Check out visualizationuniverseDotCom/books [i am not allowed to post more than two links, sorry]

Hope it helps.

Have fun and be shiny!

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It sounds like you are looking for a conceptual framework for thinking about visualizations that would allow you to construct your own and evaluate how effective they are.

Here are some references you might find helpful (split over multiple posts because of the discourse link limit).


Jacques Bertin Sémiologie Graphique (Here in English) presents a framework of thinking about visualizations as mapping from data variables to visual variables. Wilkinson (see link above) was motivated at least partially by Bertin.

Edward Tufte’s books have great of insight into what makes effective visualizations and are beautifully put together with many examples lovingly reproduced.

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Cleveland & McGill published research into the perceptual aspects of data visualization, looking at which visual variables are best suited to which statistical scales of measurement.

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Jock Mackinlay’s article Designing Great Visualizations is a good short whitepaper on the topic.

The Financial Times interactive team has a great poster summarizing many visualizations. They also have links to visualization resources.

Maneesh Agrawala and Jeffrey Heer make the course materials for their university data visualization courses available online. Search for them (discourse isn’t allowing me to paste links, sorry)

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@Nikki @huembelin @ciyer oh wow!! Thanks a lot, folks! This is really great info! Really appreciate it!