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Information Design Books

book imagebook imagebook image
Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations,
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

by Edward Tufte, Cheshire: Graphics Press, 1997, 1999.
Each book contains observations that are both brilliant and well illustrated through clear examples. However you need to take the recommendations with a grain of salt; sometimes Tufte's push for simplicity sometimes overlooks the interest value of graphic styling and ornamentation ("chartjunk" says Tufte).


book imageInformation Visualization
by Colin Ware, London: Academic Press, 2000
This text takes the scientific knowledge of visual perception and applies it in the context of design and visualization. It responds to the common criticism that design is too much based on intuition and not enough on principle. Ware does a good job bridging the gap between the scientific and design communities, explaining complex perception mechanisms in an accessible manner. Most importantly he makes the academic principles readily applicable to real-world design work.


book imageInformation Visualization
by Robert Spence, New York: Addison-Wesley, 2001
This book provides an overview of scientific visualization. It starts with key examples of Information Visualization / Design, then addresses several topics. It discusses a variety of elemental ways to represent data. It discusses the issues of presentation (and attention). It overviews design issues of connectivity. But perhaps its most interesting topic of the book is its section on cognitive modeling. Spence provides a nice overview of cognitive mapping theory and applies it to design. Some examples and illustrations in the book are less than inspiring, plus the coverage seemed at times superficial (ratio of content to examples was too low). If you really are interested in this scientific approach to Information Design, read Ware's book first.


book imageInformation Design
by Robert Jacobson, editor, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1999
Excellent collection of essays that discusses information design from a range of perspectives.


book imageSemiology of Graphics
by Jacques Bertin, translated by William J. Berg, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983
Bertin was one of the first to develop a pretty comprehensive system that codifies data visualization formats. This translated book is both a very difficult read (not for the beginner) and also quite hard to find. Available as a xerographic reprint (cover shown) through AstroLogos Books, NY.


book imageInformation Graphics -A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference
by Robert L. Harris, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999
This is a great reference work that covers just about every detail of charts, graphs, maps, diagrams, and tables. Unfortunately it does little to explain how to apply them in the appropriate circumstance for more effective information graphics (i.e. when to use a bar chart, vs. fever graph), but it does provide a very complete picture of the different ways one can organize data and the different names that people call them. The book is especially valuable if you have multiple variables that defy more routine organization structures.


book imageInformation Graphics
by Peter Wildbur, Michael Burke editors, Hong Kong: Thames & Hudson, 1998
This is a widely hailed book of case studies involving ways to create designs that facilitate the navigation of information. The case studies cover a variety of media formats (print, screen, physical 3-D form) and reveal the many different ways one can make difficult concepts understandable. Is it practical for reference use? This is harder to say. It certainly can be used to stimulate thinking about a desired subject, but ultimately the answer is no. One wishes some of the examples were explained in fuller detail (and that there were more of them). Otherwise, the material is too specific to the studies to be adaptable for broader application.


book imageDigital Information Graphics
by Matt Woolman, New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2002
A book that explores the fields of data visualization in the "digital" age with examples of information displays such as trees, organic data displays. Covers topics of mapping, informing, interacting, exploring.


book imageDrawing Charts and Diagrams
by Bruce Robertson, Cincinati: North Light Books, 1988
This dated book has an old school feel, being of the age of mechanical composition. Much is out of date, but there is still enough to consider it a valuable reference on designing charts and diagrams. Of particular note, it includes geometry formulas for designing more complex and 3D chart formats.


book imageDigital Diagrams
by Trevour Bounford, New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2000
"Digital" is a slight misnomer for this book, really it is a book detailing different diagram and chart types. Not the best book on the topic, but it makes up for its shortcomings in organization with its breadth of examples.


book imageSay it With Charts, 3rd ed.
by Gene Zelazny, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996
This short book reads like a simplified instructional lesson plan for executives on how to plan charts maps and diagrams (think for dummies). The key value to this book is that it is structured as a decision process that assists in choosing the appropriate chart type.


book imageDesigner's Guide to Creating Charts & Diagrams
by Nigel Holmes, New York: Watson-Guptill, 1984
Book on designing charts and information graphics. Some may argue that a number of Holmes' examples qualify as "chartjunk" (see Tufte), however there is something to learn from this book about how to organize information and heightening its interest through character and illustration. Good book.


book imageMapping Inner Space (2nd Ed.)
by Nancy Margulies, Chicago: Zephyr Press, 2002
Book with tips and tricks on using visual and symbolic mapping as a means to organize and share ideas between people and groups. For business professionals, this book is very accessible. For designers, this book shows how rapid, simple diagrams can help record ideas and establish concensus in meetings.


book imageInformation Design Desk Reference
by Christine Sevilla, Menlo Park: Crisp Publications Inc., 2002
Impressive instructional guide on a wide array of topics involved in information design. If there is one fault with this book, is that it tries to cover too much ground and consequently sacrifices some depth to get there. Still, for any design professional this is definintely a reference worth reading and owning.


book imageVisual Function. An Introduction to Information Design
by Paul Mijksenaar, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1997
Visual Function is well organized and grasps the essence of the form versus function challenge that faces graphic designers. It also touches on a triad concept for judging a product's qualities which has been recycled by many designers (in this case: satisfaction, reliability, and utility). Despite its short comings, the book is an interesting read for someone who is looking to understand the basics of information design.


book imageDrawing to Explain
by Nigel Holmes, Precision printing, 1998
Small booklet by Nigel Holmes that discusses the importance of shape vocabularies and perspective when developing effective visual explanations. Includes a history on Otto Neurath and the isotype symbols.


book imageMr. Beck's Underground Map
by Ken Garland, Middlesex: Capitol Transport Publishing, 1994
The London Underground map is perhaps one of the most recognizable information design pieces in the western world. It is known for its simplicity, elegance and effectiveness. This book documents the map's evolution with numerous pictures. It actually took years of fanatical refinement on Mr. Beck's part for the map to become what it is today. This book is somewhat hard to obtain. It is possible however to order a copy directly from the London Transportation Museum's gift shop. Poster versions of the map are also available from the same source (white version of the map is better than the black).


book imageVisual Language: Global Communication in the 21st century
by Robert Horn, Washington: MacroVU, Inc., 1998
Visual Language addresses issues concerning communication clarity from a graphic perspective. It provides an interesting, comprehensive look at how charts, diagrams, etc. have evolved over time. In some respects it is better than Tufte's efforts because of its straightforward format. Graphics are not Horn's forte as far as research and innovation are concerned, but as a collected overview of the visual information practice, this book is useful.


book imageThe Visual Factory (originally published as L'Usine S' Affiche)
by Michel Greif, Portland, Oregon: Productivity Press, (1989) 1991
This book argues the value of visual communication in the form of status dashboard charts and materials within the context of factory settings. What is noteworthy about this book is its important connection between visual design and the practical benefits that it can provide.


book imageInformation Design Sourcebook
Herausgeber editor, Basel Switzerland: Birkhäuser (English-Deutsche edition), 2005.
From the Institute of Information Design, Japan, this book contains a collection of information design project examples, mostly from non-U.S. sources. One of the best "inventory" books of information design work because of its quality and range. A real gem.


book imageInfographic Awards / La Salud Actual de la Infografia
Malofiej & Piqué, editors, Pamplona, Spain: Capitulo Espanol de la Society of Newspaper Design. Departmento de Proyectos Periodisticos, Universidad de Navarra, 2001
Collection of award-winning newspaper and magazine infographics and diagrams, mostly from Latin American sources. While suffering somewhat in the reproduction quality of its sources, this book is noteworthy in its multinational pool of work.


book imageInformation Dashboard Design
by Stephen Few, Sebastapol: O'Reilly Media Inc., 2006
This book details strategies for compiling and condensing information into a single "dashboard" format, as is currently used by a number of Fortune 100 businesses to track daily activity. Applicable for software design with dynamic data, but useful to web-related design work.


book imageDesign for IMPACT
by Ericson, Pihl & Kern, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003
This book contains a historical summary of airplane safety cards with examples from their earliest years to modern day. A fun book for those who enjoy these graphic cards and a useful reference to designers involved in infographics or instructional diagrams


book imageOpen Here
by Mijksenaar & Westendorp, New York: Joost Elffers Books, 1999
This book contains a collection of instructional diagrams from packaging and print. More entertainment than practical advice for the professional, but the range of examples is worth picking the book up.


book imageUnderstanding USA
by Richard Saul Wurman, editor, RR Donnelley & Sons. 2000
This is a quintessential example of statistical information design. Key information designers were asked to contribute one chapter each, turning U.S stastical data into useful visual information. The book is the result. Some chapters are dull and straightforward, but three stand out: Reed Agnew / Don Moyer's chapter on population, Ramana Rao's beautiful environmental chapter, and Krzysztof Lenk / Paul Kahn's chapter on business trade.