3.4 Graphical displays should…

  • “Excellence in statistical graphics consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision and efficiency” (Tufte 2001, 2:13)
  • “Graphics reveal data. Indeed graphics can be more precise and revealing than conventional statistical computations.” (Tufte 2001, 2:13)
  • "Graphical displays should:
    • show the data
    • induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic design, the technology of graphic production or something else
    • avoid distorting what the data has to say
    • present many numbers in a small space
    • make large data sets coherent
    • encourage the eye to compare different pieces of data
    • reveal the data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure
    • serve a reasonably clear purpose: description, exploration, tabulation or decoration
    • be closely integrated with the statistical and verbal descriptions of a data set." (Tufte 2001, 2:13)
  • Remember the The “best” graph ever drawn.


Tufte, Edward R. 2001. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Vol. 2. Graphics press Cheshire, CT.