There are lots of great new books out there about graphics and data visualization. But have you ever taken a look at some that were written back before computer software? It turns out that most of these chart and visualization methods have been around for decades – it’s just that they used to draw them by hand.
I highly recommend these books to anyone. Besides the impressive graphics and nostalgia values, the writing quality and content advice are excellent – regardless of what century you are in.
Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts, Willard Cope Brinton (1914). Brinton not only presents a variety of graph types, he goes into quite a bit of detail on the decisions that go into making a well designed chart. Note the author’s sarcastic review of the first chart below – Ha!
In 1939, Brinton released a greatly expanded version of his book, entitled Graphic Presentation, which covers an amazing breadth of graphic methods (520 pages with separate chapters for 59 different graph types!) – including these beauties:
Sections on chart elements and color choice:
Who knew they were drawing 3d curve charts in 1939?:
Next up, Calvin Schmid’s 1954 Handbook of Graphic Presentation. Schmid focused a lot on the proper use of design elements, including some draftsmanship tips. It’s amusing how many of the examples resemble charts from recent policy debates:
Others are a bit more dated:
Note: if you want to read these on your iPad (like I did), you should follow the directions at this link (the PDF files available directly from the Archive do not always display properly).
An addictive collection of beautiful charts, graphs, maps, and interactive data visualization toys -- on topics from around the world.