When writing papers, one specific problem is how to effectively organize the data we want to present so as to enable the audience and readers to quickly understand what we want to demonstrate.

I've browsed a very good book before which shows you how to draw figures and tables in academic papers in the "right approach" but seems I cannot remember its name.

If anyone has read any good book on this topic, please recommend their names.

  • 1
    Stats.SE is the place for questions on data visualisation, and this question would be better placed over there. But note that many sites, including this one, discourage "big list" questions like this, as they're no single good objective answer. If you do ask such a question, please mark it "community wiki". – EnergyNumbers Sep 15 '12 at 6:33

The preeminent author on this topic is Edward Tufte, who wrote "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information". He has a few other books also available on his site (see previous link) that are worth checking out.


Two really well presented and interesting books are in the well known O'Reilly collections:

  1. Beautiful Visualization Looking at Data through the Eyes of Experts

Visualization is the graphic presentation of data -- portrayals meant to reveal complex information at a glance. Think of the familiar map of the New York City subway system, or a diagram of the human brain. Successful visualizations are beautiful not only for their aesthetic design, but also for elegant layers of detail that efficiently generate insight and new understanding.

This book examines the methods of two dozen visualization experts who approach their projects from a variety of perspectives -- as artists, designers, commentators, scientists, analysts, statisticians, and more. Together they demonstrate how visualization can help us make sense of the world.

Explore the importance of storytelling with a simple visualization exercise Learn how color conveys information that our brains recognize before we're fully aware of it Discover how the books we buy and the people we associate with reveal clues to our deeper selves Recognize a method to the madness of air travel with a visualization of civilian air traffic Find out how researchers investigate unknown phenomena, from initial sketches to published papers

  1. Beautiful Data The Stories Behind Elegant Data Solutions

In this insightful book, you'll learn from the best data practitioners in the field just how wide-ranging -- and beautiful -- working with data can be. Join 39 contributors as they explain how they developed simple and elegant solutions on projects ranging from the Mars lander to a Radiohead video.

With Beautiful Data, you will:

Explore the opportunities and challenges involved in working with the vast number of datasets made available by the Web Learn how to visualize trends in urban crime, using maps and data mashups Discover the challenges of designing a data processing system that works within the constraints of space travel Learn how crowdsourcing and transparency have combined to advance the state of drug research Understand how new data can automatically trigger alerts when it matches or overlaps pre-existing data Learn about the massive infrastructure required to create, capture, and process DNA data That's only small sample of what you'll find in Beautiful Data. For anyone who handles data, this is a truly fascinating book.


A book I would recommend is Kosslyn's Graph Design for the Eye and Mind. What I particularly like about this book is that all recommendations are based on scientific findings and are discussed as such:

Graphs have become a fixture of everyday life, used in scientific and business publications, in magazines and newspapers, on television, on billboards, and even on cereal boxes. Nonetheless, surprisingly few graphs communicate effectively, and most graphs fail because they do not take into account the goals, needs, and abilities of the viewers. In Graph Design for Eye and Mind, Stephen Kosslyn addresses these problems by presenting eight psychological principles for constructing effective graphs. Each principle is solidly rooted both in the scientific literature on how we perceive and comprehend graphs and in general facts about how our eyes and brains process visual information. Kosslyn then uses these eight psychological principles as the basis for hundreds of specific recommendations that serve as a concrete, step-by-step guide to deciding whether a graph is an appropriate display to use, choosing the correct type of graph for a specific type of data and message, and then constructing graphs that will be understood at a glance. Kosslyn also includes a complete review of the scientific literature on graph perception and comprehension, and appendices that provide a quick tutorial on basic statistics and a checklist for evaluating computer-graphics programs. Graph Design for Eye and Mind is an invaluable reference for anyone who uses visual displays to convey information in the sciences, humanities, and businesses such as finance, marketing, and advertising.


I'd recommend David Mcandless's "The Visual Miscellaneum". The author does information visualization for The Guardian. This book is probably best for "wow, that was a great way of getting this information across visually!" It's a lot less academic than say, Tufte's work but a great tool nonetheless.

Nathan Yau's "Visualize This" is a fantastic book that ranges from the "why" to the "how to implement."

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