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PHAR 743 - Dr. Hastings - Data Visualization


Data Visualization Defined

  • Data visualization is any graphic or pictorial representation of raw data information
  • Data visualization is a later step in the data analysis process that translates information into a visual context making data easier for the human brain to understand and pull insights from

Science Behind Effective Visualizations

Preattentive Visual Processing

Preattentive Visual Processing attributes

Selecting Visualizations

Factors to consider:

  • What am I trying to discover or communicate?
  • Who is my audience?
  • What type and size of data makes up my dataset(s)?

Selecting a Visualization Tool

Factors to consider when selecting a visualization tool:

  • Your data: the type and amount of data you are working with may impact the successful functionality of different tools. Numerical, geospatial, or textual data may benefit from the use of different tools.
  • Ease of use: based on your level of knowledge, desire to learn something new, and availability of time, you may find some tools more efficient than others.
  • Tool features: each tool and process may vary a little or a lot from the others in terms of what they are able to do. Choose the tool that your are most comfortable with and also has the functions you require.
  • Cost: some tools are free while others may have associated costs. Some free tools may have limitations to their free versions that do not exist with paid versions.

Visualization Tools Learning Resources


Here are some print (physical and online) references for the topic of data visualization. These books and articles provide a range of perspectives on the topic of data visualization, from design principles to interactive techniques to communication.

  1. Cairo, A. (2013). The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization. Peachpit Press
    Thomas Cooper Library - T 385 .C33875 2013
  2. Card, S. K., Mackinlay, J. D., & Shneiderman, B. (Eds.). (1999). Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think. Morgan Kaufmann.
  3. Cleveland, W. S. (1993). Visualizing Data. Hobart Press.
  4. Few, S. (2006). Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data. O'Reilly Media, Inc.
  5. Heer, J., & Shneiderman, B. (2012). Interactive dynamics for visual analysis. Communications of the ACM, 55(4), 45-54. (link provided below)
  6. Murray, S. (2013). Interactive Data Visualization for the Web. O'Reilly Media, Inc.
  7. Tufte, E. R. (2001). The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Graphics Press.
    Thomas Cooper Library - QA 276.3 .T83 2001
  8. Ware, C. (2012). Information Visualization: Perception for Design. Morgan Kaufmann.
    Thomas Cooper Library - TS 156.2 .W37 2004 - Ebook Central Perpetual, DDA and Subscription Titles (2013) (link provided below)