Websites An academic site that can help tune up your bullshit detector. Plenty of example graphs to consider.  A collection of good and bad examples of data visualization. Also an interesting look at historical context. May not have been updated in a while.

edwardtufte  Tufte’s home site. Sure, it’s an infomercial, but there is some good commentary.

eagereyes Robert Kosara on visualization and visual communication, both academic and practical.

Flowingdata Nathan Yau on how the professionals work with data. His suggestions also apply to the rest of us.

Junk Charts A nice, practical commentary site by Kaiser Fung.

PolicyViz  Jonathan Schwabish on how to analyze and present data. He draws on human perception principles.

the functional art Alberto Cairo concentrates on infographics, but this site also includes many useful resources for graphing.

WTFViz Painfully bad visualizations. A good source for don’t do.


Data Points by Nathan Yao (2013) Tools and techniques for scientific data visualization, thoughtfully presented.

Designer’s Guide to Creating Charts & Diagrams by Nigel Holmes (1984) Lots of highly decorated charts. The kind of presentation despised by modern data visualization practitioners.

Designing Data Visualizations by Noah Iliinsky and Julie Steele (2011) The what and how of data visualization. Serious enough that it includes footnotes.

Elements of Graph Design by Stephen M. Kosslyn (1994) Lots of recommendations on how to make the usual graphs better.

Now You See It by Stephen Few (2009) An informed expert’s take on data analysis and visualization. Probably the best book on quality graphs.

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte (1983) Created a big splash and much interest in “cleaner” graphs and displays. Tufte continues to cast a long shadow in the field.

Visual Revelations by Howard Wainer (1997) Good and bad examples of visual information display with commentary.

Visualize This by Nathan Yao (2011) Ways to visually tell stories about data. Addresses what type of graph to use and how to do it well.

Visualizing Data by William S. Cleveland (1993) Using graphs to avoid pitfalls in naive statistical analysis. Techniques for non-Gaussian data. Strategies based on human perception.

Excel tips

Getting a picture
Excel does not provide a direct way to save a chart to an image file. Some people copy and paste through Word. I prefer to use Paint. (The classic version is easier than Paint3D.)

Data series labels
The default data series labels are not particularly worthwhile. Once you have turned them on, you can edit to show just values rather than coordinates.

Date format
To get years only, edit Format Code for yyyy and select Add.


Updates to Elements of MATLAB Style
I have a 10 page update through Rev 2019a available.


Infographics and technical data visualization usually address somewhat different audiences. Considered design for communication is of course important for both. A great collection of tips and references for infographics is available here.