During our month with more focus on Data Visualisation, we should not overlook data visualisation books.

I hope our previous posts, focussing on Data Viz blogs and twitter experts have helped your personal development. But, even in this digital age, we should not overlook the power of books.

Whether you invest in hard copy or digital versions, the longer form of books often gives opportunity to better structure information for self-development. So, to complement those earlier resources, in this post I am going to recommend a number of books from 9 experts.

Many of these experts are the same people I have recommended for blogs & tweets, but there are 4 new experts. I’ll leave you to spot which are different. Plus, enjoy this treasure trove of 11 data visualisation books from 9 Data Viz experts.

Edward Tufte

Let’s start with the ‘Don’ of Data Visualisation, at least as far as I’m concerned. Most of his books are classics in this field, but one stands out as the articulation of his design principles. In ‘The Visual Display of Quantitative Information‘, Tufte both explains his design principles and gives useful positive & negative examples. Worth having a reference copy.

Edward Tufte: Books – The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

This is the second edition of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Recently published, this new edition provides excellent color reproductions of the many graphics of William Playfair, adds color to other images, and includes all the changes and corrections accumulated during 17 printings of the first edition.

Alberto Cairo

Another expert I have recommended previously. Being a professor of journalism, Alberto’s books are geared toward a wider audience (not just data professionals), which is useful for those needing to communicate within businesses. His first two books are worth considering, as they cover the fundamentals of data usage, statistics & data visualisation.

The Functional Art book

The Functional Art is an introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization, the communication of facts and data by means of charts, gr…

The Truthful Art book

Review by Kaiser Fung (JunkCharts) *Review by Gretchen Peterson *Review by Andy Cotgreave (Tableau) *Review by Techinfographics *Review at Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly *Review at The Data School *Review by The Cranky Sociologists *Review by Steve Wexler (Data Revelations) *Review by Alan Smith (The Financial Times) * Review by Koen Verbeeck Praise for The Truthful Art: “Alberto Cairo is widely acknowledged as journalism’s preeminent visualization wiz.

Jorge Camoes

So many analysts (of all flavours) are still using Excel as their primary data visualisation tool (to supplement Word docs or PowerPoint presentations), so its useful to have an author who uses that tool too. All the visuals, in Jorge’s “Data at Work” book, are produced in Excel and his companion website allows you to download them in Excel to see for yourself. A really useful addition to current literature on data viz principles and implementations.

Data at Work – Companion site for the book. And more.

Companion site for the book. And more.

Stephen Few

Talking of commercial applications in businesses, that is the focus of Stephen’s books on how to present data effectively & strategically. Lots of helpful tips for analysts & leaders in his books. Of those listed in this library, I’d recommend “Show Me the Numbers” and “Now you See It…”.

Perceptual Edge – Library

Stephen Few exposes the common problems in dashboard design and describes its best practices in great detail and with a multitude of examples in this updated second edition. Dashboards have become a popular means to present critical information at a glance, yet few do so effectively.

Andy Kirk

Returning to another author whom I’ve already recommended as a blogger, Andy brings some design thinking structure to data visualisation development. He is one of the few authors to offer a system to conceptualise & develop data visualisations.

Book – Visualising Data

The primary challenge one faces when writing a book about data visualisation is to determine what to leave in and what to leave out. Data visualisation is big. It is too big a subject to even attempt to cover it all, in detail, in one book.

Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

I’ve done one step better on gender balance in this list, as Cole is the first of three recommended female authors. Her book is a helpful introduction to data visualisation. She also goes beyond individual visualisations, to advise on pairing text with graphics and using a series of visualisations to tell a story or lead a reader to a conclusion. A great place for leaders to start.

Book – storytelling with data

Storytelling is not an inherent skill, especially when it comes to data visualization, and the tools at our disposal don’t make it any easier. This book demonstrates how to go beyond conventional tools to reach the root of your data, and how to use your data to create an engaging, informative, compelling story.

Jon Schwabish

Jon provides a host of different helpful resources within his PolicyViz shop, but his recommended book is especially relevant for academics or data scientists working with data-intensive content. “Better Presentations…” details strategies for developing clear and visually captivating presentations with sophisticated data visualisation.

Better Presentations – Policy Viz

I wrote my book on presentation skills to help you-the data analyst, researcher, or scholar-improve the way you conceptualize, create, and deliver your presentations. I want to show you a better way to deliver your content so that it will be remembered and acted upon.

Naomi Robbins

Our second recommended woman, has authored a succinct guide for creating effective graphs. In “Creating More Effective Graphs“, Naomi provides the basic knowledge & techniques needed to improve your graphs, to be more appropriate & effective.

Recommended Books ” NBR | Offers Businesses Seminars and Consulting on Better Charts and Graphs

Creating More Effective Graphs gives you the basic knowledge and techniques required to choose and create appropriate graphs for a broad range of applications. Using real-world examples everyone can relate to, it highlights some of today’s most effective methods. In clear, concise language, it answers such common questions as:

Dona Wong

Last, but not least, Dona shares from her expertise as one the team producing the Wall Street Journal’s excellent examples of Data Visualisation. Helpfully, she dedicates individual pages to different useful chart types. Providing advice on how to select the most appropriate chart type for the information you need to communicate. Her clarity of thinking & rigour are not surprising as she was a student of Edward Tufte (thus nicely closing our list with a nod to the start).

The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics | W. W. Norton & Company

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Any data visualisation books you’d recommend?

I hope this third & final list of ‘data viz’ resources is helpful for you. Please do share any data visualisation books you’d recommend. Is there any text that has helped improve your use of charts etc?

Beyond that, it would be great to see your feedback on any of our data visualisation resources posts. If you have blogs or twitter experts to recommend, please do.

That’s it for our month focussed (more anyway) on data visualisation. Let me know if you’d like us to return to this topic in more depth in future.