What’s a good book or reference for data visualization?

I’m looking for some references on creating effective graphs/data visualizations.

I’ve found a bunch of books that show how to create data visualizations using certain tools (like R/ggplot vs python/pandas) but that’s not really what I’m looking for. I’m looking for a reference that explains different types of charts with respect to stats/math. I want more theory than process.

I want to know the different types of charts and how to use them. Anything helps!


I think that the work of William Cleveland is going to be closer to what you want that that of Tufte. Cleveland wrote two books:

  1. Visualizing Data (1993)
  2. The Elements of Graphing Data (1985)

The first book, in particular, may be what you want. Here is a publisher’s description:

Visualizing Data is about visualization tools that provide deep
insight into the structure of data. There are graphical tools such as
coplots, multiway dot plots, and the equal count algorithm. There are
fitting tools such as loess and bisquare that fit equations,
nonparametric curves, and nonparametric surfaces to data. But the book
is much more than just a compendium of useful tools. It conveys a
strategy for data analysis that stresses the use of visualization to
thoroughly study the structure of data and to check the validity of
statistical models fitted to data. The result of the tools and the
strategy is a vast increase in what you can learn from your data. The
book demonstrates this by reanalyzing many data sets from the
scientific literature, revealing missed effects and inappropriate
models fitted to data.

An even more theoretical book is The Grammar of Graphics by Leland Wilkinson. The description:

This book was written for statisticians, computer scientists,
geographers, researchers, and others interested in visualizing data.
It presents a unique foundation for producing almost every
quantitative graphic found in scientific journals, newspapers,
statistical packages, and data visualization systems. While the
tangible results of this work have been several visualization software
libraries, this book focuses on the deep structures involved in
producing quantitative graphics from data. What are the rules that
underlie the production of pie charts, bar charts, scatterplots,
function plots, maps, mosaics, and radar charts? Those less interested
in the theoretical and mathematical foundations can still get a sense
of the richness and structure of the system by examining the numerous
and often unique color graphics it can produce. The second edition is
almost twice the size of the original, with six new chapters and
substantial revision. Much of the added material makes this book
suitable for survey courses in visualization and statistical graphics.

This book is very theoretical.

Source : Link , Question Author : Community , Answer Author :
Peter Flom

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