Introduction to Data Visualization

This guide collects resources and tutorials related to data visualization.

Data Services Librarian

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Lora Lennertz
University of Arkansas Libraries

MULN 415

365 N. McIlRoy Ave

Why Visualize?

Do you need reasons to create and use data visualizations?

  1. A picture is worth a thousand words.
  2. Data visualizations help you to analyse and make sense of your data.  It allows you to identify relationships and patterns in your data and identify errors that you might not see in tabular form.
  3. Visualizations can amplify your message and make it more powerful.
  4. Data visualizations communicate quickly and facilitate faster decision-making.
  5. They are fun!

Functions of Good Visualizations

In his 1983 "landmark book" The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Edward Tufte defines "graphical displays" in the following passage:

    Graphical displays should:

  •         show the data
  •         induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic design, the technology of graphic production, or something else
  •         avoid distorting what the data has to say
  •         present many numbers in a small space
  •         make large data sets coherent
  •         encourage the eye to compare different pieces of data
  •         reveal the data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure
  •         serve a reasonably clear purpose: description, exploration, tabulation, or decoration
  •         be closely integrated with the statistical and verbal descriptions of a data set

    Graphics reveal data. Indeed graphics can be more precise and revealing than conventional statistical computations