Elements of Graph Design

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W.H. Freeman and Company, 1994 - Mathematics - 309 pages
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This is a "how to" book. Stephen Kosslyn offers step-by-step guidelines for creating graphs that convey data in clear and attractive ways. This is also a "why it works" book. Kosslyn, a noted psychologist, bases his recommendations on extensive research into how the brain perceives and processes visual information. As he demonstrates, an awareness of the connections between the eye and the mind can make all the difference when creating or reading graphs. In Elements of Graph Design, Kosslyn helps you determine the appropriate format for a graph based on the data to be presented and your purpose in presenting it. He then focuses on the nuts and bolts of graph construction - the framework, the labels, the use of color and texture. Dozens of examples of effective and ineffective graphs are described and dissected in light of what is known about human visual perception. The result: easy-to-follow, unambiguous graphs that virtually anyone can understand immediately. Elements of Graph Design is for anyone who creates graphs, whether by computer or by pencil and paper. It is for anyone who relies on graphs in school work, presentations, or business reports. It is for anyone who wants a better understanding of the graphs used by newspapers and magazines, politicians, and advertisers (Kosslyn includes a chapter on how graphs can be used to misrepresent data). Finally it is for anyone interested in the mechanics of perception, memory, and cognition that come into play not just when we read graphs, but in any visual encounter.

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About the author (1994)

Stephen M. Kosslyn is Chair of the Department of Psychology and John Lindsley Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. A leading authority on the nature of visual mental imagery and visual communication, he has received numerous honors for his work in this field. His previous books include
Image and Mind, Wet Mind: The New Cognitive Neuroscience (with Koenig), and Psychology: The Brain, the Person, the World (with Rosenberg).

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