Theory of Data Graphics. Part 1 Most of a graphic’s ink should vary in response to data variation (see chapters 4-6). Chapter 4 - Data-Ink Ratio.
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Most of a graphic’s ink should vary in response to data variation (see chapters 4-6)
1. Above all else show data.
2. Maximize the data-ink ratio.
3. Erase non-data-ink.
4. Erase redundant data-ink.
5. Revise and edit
Tufte tests these principles on a whole range of examples to come up with a wide range of fresh designs that dramatically improve the legibility of the graphs. Here is an example with a very high data-ink ratio. It’s an electroencephalogram – a graph that records the electrical activity from the brain. This graph would have a data-ink ratio of 1.
“A series of weird three-dimensional displays appearing in the magazine of American Education in the 1970’s delighted the connoisseurs of the graphically preposterous. Here five colors report, almost by happenstance, only 5 pieces of data (since the division within each adds to 100%). This may well be the worst graphic ever to find its way into print.”
See page 118.
Puzzles and Hierarchy in Graphics