The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics

A handy desktop reference from the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics by Dona Wong

The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics by Dona Wong (ISBN 978-0393072952) is a handy reference for creating visualizations. I noticed a copy at my local library and decided to check it out. Dona Wong is currently working at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, but- as the title suggests- previously spent nine years working at the Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she earned an MFA at Yale where none other than Edward Tufte was her thesis advisor.

The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics by Dona Wong

The subtitle of the book is “The dos and don’ts of presenting data, facts and figures”. Its five chapters are organized into a series of easy-to-digest infographics illustrating various data visualization concepts. The book is more of a desktop reference and less of a tutorial. Some Ms. Wong’s advice isn’t actionable because the tools that we use won’t support the best practices. But users of SAP Lumira visualization extensions will appreciate the best practices for pictograms. And while the book discusses how to use color, it doesn’t provide RGB codes for the recommended color palettes. But on the whole, there’s a lot of good information presented in a small amount of space.

Stephen Few wasn’t terribly impressed (see related article, What can the Wall Street Journal teach us about information graphics?). Although it seems a bit self serving on his part, I don’t disagree with Mr. Few that some concepts are difficult to describe in a few words. Or that the guide is mostly a reformatted internal style guide for the Wall Street Journal. Data visualization professionals are better off sticking with more robust books by Stephen Few (see related book reviews) and Edward Tufte. But this book is a handy desktop reference that will help the business users that we support avoid common pitfalls and make better visualizations.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Author: Dallas Marks

I am a business intelligence architect, author, and trainer. I help organizations harness the power of analytics, primarily with SAP BusinessObjects products. An active blogger, SAP Mentor and co-author of the SAP Press book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, I prefer piano keyboards over computer keyboards when not blogging or tweeting about business intelligence.

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