Principles of Information Display for Visualization Practitioners

Al Globus

NAS Technical Report NAS-94-002
November 28, 1994

Note: a German translation by Jens Meiert is available here.


This paper is intended to give the visualization practitioner an overview of Edward Tufte's work on information display. Dr. Tufte has written two classic books on information display: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information and Envisioning Information. I believe that many of the concepts in these books are important to scientific visualization, but are often not applied by practitioners.

Much of this paper is Tufte paraphrased; e.g., where Tufte might say `graphical excellence', I write `visualization excellence'. When you see the word `ink' (paper technology!), think `non-back-ground pixels'. Passages in quotation marks are direct quotes. Most of the text is a re-wording of Dr. Tufte's ideas, but all comments on the current state of visualization belong to me; and I am responsible for all errors.

The reader is encouraged to read Tufte's books. The treatment here is brief, incomplete, picture-poor, and low resolution.

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