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Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics

ISBN: 978-0-470-94488-2
384 pages
July 2011
Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics (0470944889) cover image
Practical data design tips from a data visualization expert of the modern age

Data doesn?t decrease; it is ever-increasing and can be overwhelming to organize in a way that makes sense to its intended audience. Wouldn?t it be wonderful if we could actually visualize data in such a way that we could maximize its potential and tell a story in a clear, concise manner? Thanks to the creative genius of Nathan Yau, we can. With this full-color book, data visualization guru and author Nathan Yau uses step-by-step tutorials to show you how to visualize and tell stories with data. He explains how to gather, parse, and format data and then design high quality graphics that help you explore and present patterns, outliers, and relationships.

  • Presents a unique approach to visualizing and telling stories with data, from a data visualization expert and the creator of flowingdata.com, Nathan Yau
  • Offers step-by-step tutorials and practical design tips for creating statistical graphics, geographical maps, and information design to find meaning in the numbers
  • Details tools that can be used to visualize data-native graphics for the Web, such as ActionScript, Flash libraries, PHP, and JavaScript and tools to design graphics for print, such as R and Illustrator
  • Contains numerous examples and descriptions of patterns and outliers and explains how to show them

Visualize This demonstrates how to explain data visually so that you can present your information in a way that is easy to understand and appealing.

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Introduction xv

1 Telling Stories with Data 1

More Than Numbers 2

What to Look For 8

Design 13

Wrapping Up 20

2 Handling Data 21

Gather Data 22

Formatting Data 38

Wrapping Up 52

3 Choosing Tools to Visualize Data 53

Out-of-the-Box Visualization 54

Programming 62

Illustration 76

Mapping 80

Survey Your Options 88

Wrapping Up 89

4 Visualizing Patterns over Time 91

What to Look for over Time 92

Discrete Points in Time 93

Continuous Data 118

Wrapping Up 132

5 Visualizing Proportions 135

What to Look for in Proportions 136

Parts of a Whole 136

Proportions over Time 161

Wrapping Up 178

6 Visualizing Relationships 179

What Relationships to Look For 180

Correlation 180

Distribution 200

Comparison 213

Wrapping Up 226

7 Spotting Differences 227

What to Look For 228

Comparing across Multiple Variables 228

Reducing Dimensions 258

Searching for Outliers 265

Wrapping Up 269

8 Visualizing Spatial Relationships 271

What to Look For 272

Specific Locations 272

Regions 285

Over Space and Time 302

Wrapping Up 325

9 Designing with a Purpose 327

Prepare Yourself 328

Prepare Your Readers 330

Visual Cues 334

Good Visualization 340

Wrapping Up 341

Index 343

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Nathan Yau is a PhD candidate in Statistics at UCLA and a lifelong data junkie. His goal is to make data available and useful to those who aren't necessarily data experts, and he focuses on data visualization and personal data collection. You can follow his visualization experiments at http://flowingdata.com.
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July 13, 2011
VISUALIZE THIS: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization and Statistics

Data is ever-increasing and can be overwhelming to organize in a way that makes sense to its audience. To mean anything, it must be presented in a way that enables people to interpret, analyze, and apply the information, and one of the best ways to do that is visually. The New York Times, for example, designs data graphics that allows readers to see what the data has to say and explore the data themselves. Now, Nathan Yau, a pioneer of this innovative approach, has written Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization and Statistics (Wiley; $39.99; July 2011; ISBN: 9780470944882) to offer readers dozens of ideas for telling a story with their own data presented in creative, visual ways.

With this full-color book, step-by-step tutorials are used to show readers how to visualize and tell stories with data. The author explains how to gather, parse, and format data and then design high quality graphics that help readers explore and present patterns, differences, and relationships. Beginning with a description of the huge growth of data and visualization in industry, news, and government the book reveals opportunities for those who tell stories with data. Visualize This then moves on to actual human stories and trends in data and statistics. The technical part is covered with how to format data with code and readily available applications, and details tools to create data graphics for print and the Web like R, Illustrator, JavaScript, Flash/Actionscript, PHP, CSS, and HTML. Readers will learn how to:

  • Present data with visual representations that allow the audience to see the unexpected
  • Find the stories data can tell
  • Explore different data sources and determine effective formats for presentation
  • Experiment with and compare different visualization tools
  • Look for trends and patterns in data and select appropriate ways to chart them
  • Establish clear goals to guide visualizations

Complete with a companion web site at www.wiley.com/go/visualizethis, it provides code samples, data files, and interactive examples to reveal how visualization works. Visualize This demonstrates how to explain data visually so that readers can present information in a way that is easy to understand and is appealing to viewers. Inside the book, professionals will discover an almost endless variety of ways to give data new dimensions.

About the Author

Nathan Yau is a PhD candidate in Statistics at UCLA and a lifelong data junkie. His goal is to make data available and useful to those who aren't necessarily data experts, and he focuses on data visualization and personal data collection. You can follow his visualization experiments at http://flowingdata.com.

About Wiley

Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. has been a valued source of information and understanding for more than 200 years, helping people around the world meet their needs and fulfill their aspirations. Wiley and its acquired companies have published the works of more than 450 Nobel laureates in all categories: Literature, Economics, Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Peace.

Our core businesses publish scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, encyclopedias, books, and online products and services; professional/trade books, subscription products, training materials, and online applications and Web sites; and educational materials for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners. Wiley's global headquarters are located in Hoboken, New Jersey, with operations in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Canada, and Australia. The Company's Web site can be accessed at http://www.wiley.com. The Company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbols JWa and JWb.

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