Thursday, October 11, 2012

Recommended resources for my infographics and visualization courses

Map by Charles Joseph Minard. Learn more about it.

This post includes a list of recommended (non-mandatory) readings for all my Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization courses.

The main reading of those classes is my own book: The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization.

I also mention the series of long-form articles that I wrote for Peachpit Press

Emotional Data Visualization: Periscopic's "U.S. Gun Deaths" and the Challenge of Uncertainty

2. Heroes of Visualization: John Snow, H.W. Acland, and the Mythmaking Problem

3. A Confederacy of Truth-Tellers: The Bright (But Challenging) Future of Small or Independent Visualization Teams

4. The Many-Faced Infographic: Brooklyn, Elephants, and the Visualization of Data

AS AN INTRODUCTION, first watch this video lecture: Infographics, the art of visualizing information


My talks at Chicas Poderosas and at Tapestry.
What makes a good data visualization? With Manuel Lima, Kaiser Fung, Jonathan Stray, and others
Kevin Quealy
Noah Iliinsky (who is author of a nice intro to visualization)
Me again, one and two
Amanda Cox
Simon Rogers
Hans Rosling
Kim Rees
Bas Broekhuizen


Besides my own The Functional Art, see List 1 and list 2

Free book: Data + Design, a simple introduction to preparing and visualizing information.

Visualization Design and Analysis: Abstractions, Principles, and Methods, by Tamara Munzner (draft for upcoming book).

The Form of Facts and Figures: Design Patterns for Interactive Information Visualization, MA dissertation by Christian Behrens.

Also, see this impressive series of books by Rune Petterson, downloadable for free.

Rafe Donahue's Fundamental Statistical Concepts in Presenting Data is great, as well.


Infographics and visualizations as tools for the mind
Alberto Cairo

Learning to See

Oliver Reichenstein

Visual encoding
Michael Dubakov

The Trifecta Checkup framework for visualization criticism
Kaiser Fung

An Economist’s Guide to Visualizing Data
Jon Schwabish

Visual literacy in the age of data
Shazna Nessa

Data Visualization Checklist
Stephanie Evergreen

Storytelling with data
Jonathan Corum

Essential Collection of Visualization Resources
Andy Kirk

On the differences between information-data-scientific visualization(s)
Sheila Pontis

Data visualization for human perception
Stephen Few

The 8 hats of data visualization design
Andy Kirk

How to become a data visualization expert: A recipe
Enrico Bertini

How to choose your graphic: Graphic Cheat Sheet
Billion Dollar Graphics

A good example of how to criticize and redesign a flawed chart
Robert Kosara/EagerEyes

How to choose the right chart
Carla Uriona

A survey of powerful visualization techniques, from the obvious to the obscure
Jeff Heer, Mike Bostock, Vadim Ogievetsky

A taxonomy of visualization types
Duke University

Design principles for visualization
Lena Groeger / Propublica

The Narrative Eros of the Infographic
Reif Larsen

Bringing infographics and visualization to the mainstream
Alberto Cairo

Ending the infographic plague
Megan McArdle

Disinformation Visualization: How to lie with datavis
Mushon Zer-Aviv

A Quick Illustrated History of Visualization

Interaction design for data visualizations
Lars Grammel

The Science of Information Visualization
Robert Kosara

How Much Data Do You Really Need?
Robert Kosara

The Explanatory Power of Data Points
Robert Kosara

The Three Types of Chart Junk
Robert Kosara

Using data visualization to find insights in data
Gregor Aisch

About Nigel Holmes
Robert Kosara

A Big Article About Wee Things
Lena Groeger

Visualizing Social Facts: Otto Neurath's ISOTYPE project
Frank Hartmann

When maps shouldn't be maps
Matt Ericson

William Playfair and the Psychology of Graphs
Ian Spence

Droughts on deadline
Kevin Quealy

Using indexed charts to represent change
Chandoo. See also this other article

The future of data visualization
Drew Skau

10 things you can learn from The New York Times' data visualizations
Andy Kirk

Fast thinking and slow thinking visualization
Spatial Analysis

Tower Graphics
Lulu Pinney

The process of creating data visualizations
Jan Willem Tulp

Data art vs. data visualization: Why does a distinction matter?
Stephen Few

Data visualization: Clarity of Aesthetics (part 1, part 2, part 3)
Ben Jones

Stacked area chart vs. Line chart – The great debate
Andy Kriebel

How to display headlines and intros in graphics
Storytelling with data

The case for horizontal bar graphs
Storytelling with data


Computational Journalism reading list
Jonathan Stray

Open data journalism
Simon Rogers

IT professionals in the newsroom
George Wright

Speaking of Graphics: An Essay on Graphicacy in Science, Technology and Business
Paul J. Lewi


In no particular order. I've just copied them from my RSS reader in the way they are (un)organized in there. Copy and paste in your browser: (of course!)


  1. How good stuff and organized. Thanks =D

  2. The whole elements are a great challenge!

  3. Thank you for providing outstanding insight!

  4. Great!! I need some time to analyze all material but is perfect.

    Thanks Alberto.

  5. This resource helps you to promote your info graphics for free.
     100 Infographics Sites 

  6. This is an excellent list of sources and blogs. Happily, I was already following the majority of the blogs via RSS before I saw this, and now, your blog is also in my RSS feed! Coincidentally, a critique by my school Info Tech class of an 'infographic' - which it isn't - recently appeared in Junk Charts (

    Thanks for your work Alberto!

    -- Stephen Matthews (@srmdrummer)

  7. It is really nice that you're teaching your students good information design practices, Stephen!

  8. Fantastic! Thank you so much, professor Alberto!

  9. Thank Cairo professor excellent and interesting material. Beatriz

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Alberto,
    Thank you for editing this remarkable list. So many people have put their minds to this problem in recent years! I will use this for teaching my Information Architecture/Interaction Design students at Media Lab/Helsinki and UArts Philadelphia in the coming months.
    I want to also recommend Joel Katz's recent books, "Designing Information,Human Factors and Common Sense in Information Design" ( to everyone working in the field. Katz's book focuses on the principals and practice of information design -- the heart and soul of any successful information graphic -- using hand-crafted two-page spreads to synthesize the ideas and techniques we all need to get our messages across. It is a great compliment to the sources you have collected here.

  12. Thank you all for your comments. Paul, I wrote a short note about Katz's book. It's a good one indeed. You can find it here:

  13. Thanks Prof Cairo for clarity and simplicity in your book. Appreciate the reading list as wells as those from your colleague Stephen Few. More journalists should be willing to relearn and acquire new tools of informing and educating to elicit change for a better society through application of data visualization. The risk lies in the myriad of SEO tricks on data visualization which can sully the process even while increasing awareness. I am extremely grateful to you and others like Stephen Few who are weeding through and clearing the pathways so students can get to the good stuff quickly. Great comprehensive list by Stephen Few as well.

  14. I love this list - thank you for sharing. So far (and I haven't read them all) my favorite resources are the Cheat Sheet, 10 things you can learn from New York Times visualizations and How to become a data viz expert: A recipe. Of course I still have a lot more reading to do and looking forward to it!

  15. Another interesting blog is for data analytics, big data and data visualization.

  16. Very informative...only recently started practising ddj so still am struggling...the information provided here is very helpful

  17. OMG! Eu quero conseguir ter tempo para analisar - pelo menos - uma parte desse material. Obrigada por compartilhá-lo!

  18. I do really appreciate your work,send me more links

  19. This is a great list of recommended tools and reading here, love it. Just wondering if you have heard about the enterprise data model tools from Modern Analytics? They have some excellent visuals and graphics that help you analyze past data and put together accurate data models. Definitely would recommend taking a look!

  20. Do you share any of the R code for plots from either of your books?