Visual Explanations - Tufte's best book

Edward Tufte has made his career teaching us how to create compelling factual illustrations. He follows his own advice in his four exquisitely designed books which he has self-published over the past decade. Each book develops his ideas of minimal decoration and maximum understanding for charts and diagrams. All his books are good, but I think his second, Visual Explanations, is his best. It is a short course in conveying critical information in a visual form. Whether you start with text, data, or ideas, he lays out some sound principles in how to convey these facts in pictures. His own pages are great examples of how readers benefit by these principles. Printed with love, including pages with pasted in cutouts, this timeless book will never go out of date, and is likely to be passed on to future generations.

Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative, by Edward R. Tufte

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  1. I'm going to disagree and say that Envisioning Information is his best (by far), followed by The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Both cover fundamental properties of great information design, and both do it extremely well with amazing examples and beautiful design (the pyramid on page 16 of EI is magical). But after that he goes downhill quickly. Visual Explanations comes in third, slightly ahead of Beautiful Evidence, but both VE and BE are trying to squeeze out the last bits of Tufte's ideas on the topic. Unfortunately Tufte is a one trick-pony -- that being said, it's a great trick. But after two books he's exhausted his material and his later books are mostly collections of pretty pictures.

  2. ...is beautiful, and FWIW, I'm happy to drop the cash for his stuff. His pretty pictures runs circles around most other people's pretty pictures.

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