The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures

The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures

by Dona M. Wong


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The definitive guide to the graphic presentation of information.

In today’s data-driven world, professionals need to know how to express themselves in the language of graphics effectively and eloquently. Yet information graphics is rarely taught in schools or is the focus of on-the-job training. Now, for the first time, Dona M. Wong, a student of the information graphics pioneer Edward Tufte, makes this material available for all of us. In this book, you will learn:
  • to choose the best chart that fits your data;
  • the most effective way to communicate with decision makers when you have five minutes of their time;
  • how to chart currency fluctuations that affect global business;
  • how to use color effectively;
  • how to make a graphic “colorful” even if only black and white are available.

The book is organized in a series of mini-workshops backed up with illustrated examples, so not only will you learn what works and what doesn’t but also you can see the dos and don’ts for yourself. This is an invaluable reference work for students and professional in all fields.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393347289
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 12/16/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 582,314
Product dimensions: 8.90(w) x 11.70(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Dona Wong began her career in visual journalism at The New York Times, became the graphics director for The Wall Street Journal in 2001, and was previously the strategy director for information design at the global consulting firm Siegel+Gale. Today she is Vice President, Digital and Multimedia Communications, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Wong holds an MFA from Yale University and lives in New York City. The views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily represent those of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Table of Contents

Introduction 13

Chapter 1 The Basics 19

Charting 20

Numbers 22

Data integrity 26

Data richness 28


Legibility 30

Typography in charts 32

The Visual - Data Continuum 34


Basics 36

Color palettes 38

Color in charts 40

Color chart templates 42

Coloring for the color blind 44

Color scale application 46

Chapter 2 Chart Smart 49


Height and weight 50

Y-axis increments 52

Clean lines, clear signal 54

Legends and labels 56

Left-right y-axis scales 58

Comparable scales 60

Vertical bars

Form and shading 62

Zero baseline 64

Multiple bars and legends 66

Broken bars and outliers 68

Horizontal bars

Ordering and regrouping 70

Negative bars 72


Slicing and dicing 74

Dressing up the slices 76

Slicing a slice 78

Proportional pies 80


Grid lines 82

Numbers alignment and ordering 84


Choice of icons 86

Comparing quantities 88


Mapping and shading 90

Chapter 3 Ready Reference 93

Do the Math

Mean, median, mode 94

Standard deviation 95

Probability 96

Average vs. weighted average 98

Moving average 99

Logarithmic scale 100

Comparable scales 102

Percentage change 104

Re-indexing to 100 or 0 105


Expressing percentages 106

Absolute values vs. percentage changes 107

Percent of a percentage 108

Don't average percentages 109

Copy Style in Charts

Words 110

Numerals 111


Major stock indexes 112

Measuring performance 114

Arithmetic vs. geometric rate of return 116

Currencies 118

Chapter 4 Tricky Situations 123

Missing data 124

Big numbers, small change 126

Comparable scales 128

Coloring with black ink 130

Chapter 5 Charting Your Course 133

Org chart 134

Flow chart 135

Work plan 136

Timeline 137

Progress report 138

Spider chart 140

Schedule and budget chart 141

In Brief 143

Acknowledgments 147

Creative process revealed 149

Index 151

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