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 Printed with love, including pages with pasted in cutouts, this timeless book will never go out of date, and is likely to be passed on to future generations.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