Other Brief Publications


Big Data, Big Dupe Cover

Big Data, Big Dupe, Stephen Few, $11.95 (U.S.), Analytics Press, Coming February 1, 2018

Big Data, Big Dupe is a little book about a big bunch of nonsense. The story of David and Goliath inspires us to hope that something little, when armed with truth, can topple something big that is a lie. This is the author's hope. While others have written about the dangers of Big Data, Stephen Few reveals the deceit that belies its illusory nature. If "data is the new oil," Big Data is the new snake oil. It isn't real. It's a marketing campaign that has distracted us for years from the real and important work of deriving value from data.

Signal Cover Graphic

Signal: Understanding What Matters in a World of Noise, Stephen Few, $45.00 (U.S.), Analytics Press, 2015

In this age of so-called Big Data, organizations are scrambling to implement new software and hardware to increase the amount of data they collect and store. However, in doing so they are unwittingly making it harder to find the needles of useful information in the rapidly growing mounds of hay. If you don't know how to differentiate signals from noise, adding more noise only makes things worse. When we rely on data for making decisions, how do we tell what qualifies as a signal and what is merely noise? In and of itself, data is neither. Assuming that data is accurate, it is merely a collection of facts. When a fact is true and useful, only then is it a signal. When it's not, it's noise. It's that simple. In Signal, Stephen Few provides the straightforward, practical instruction in everyday signal detection that has been lacking until now. Using data visualization methods, he teaches how to apply statistics to gain a comprehensive understanding of one's data and adapts the techniques of Statistical Process Control in new ways to detect not just changes in the metrics but also changes in the patterns that characterize data.

Information Dashboard Design Cover Graphic

Information Dashboard Design: Displaying data for at-a-glance monitoring, Second Edition, Stephen Few, $40.00 (U.S.), Analytics Press, 2013

This book alone addresses the visual design of dashboards.

Don't be misled by the title. This is not just a book about information dashboards, but arguably the most concise and information-dense treaty on how to present quantitative information by means of graphics. Among the many people who are currently writing about data visualization and infographics, Stephen Few is one of a kind, someone who can translate huge amounts of research in statistics, visual perception, cognition, and business intelligence into practical guidelines. Information Dashboard Design is, in this sense, a perfect blend of theory and practice.

Alberto Cairo, author of The Functional Art

Stephen Few is evidently a man of taste and wisdom. This volume speaks eloquently about common pitfalls and the path that avoids them. He performs a tremendous service of assimilating work by other greats and adding useful innovations of his own. If you appreciate great design and work with numbers, this will make you a hero. Rarely do you acquire expensive new skills as easily as you will by reading this book.

Skip Savage (from an review)

If you want a performance dashboard that helps you truly manage performance (and not just pretend to), read this book first. Then buy a copy for your dashboard developer, or hire a developer that already practices its principles.

Stacey Barr, The Performance Measure Specialist

The most powerful designs are the ones we do not notice. The real power of designers and developers is in turning something incredibly complex into something amazingly simple. The challenge is not to add new features but to add value and power to products without adding any complexity. Design does not happen by accident. It is the product of careful and deliberate planning. Stephen Few demonstrates this through examples and best practices that are easy to understand and will improve how we display information. Businesses that value design will leap ahead because they will able to quickly assimilate information, efficiently focus time and efforts, and create alignment, agility and effectiveness. This book provides a running head start!

Eleanor Taylor, Strategist, SAS Institute

Show Me the Numbers Cover Graphic

Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten, Second Edition, Stephen Few, $45.00 (U.S.), Analytics Press, 2012

This is the most accessible, complete, and practical guide available for designing tables and graphs to communicate numerical information clearly and simply.

Stephen Few is the master of creating simplicity and meaning through the clear visualization of data. Show Me the Numbers is a beautifully visual and instructional book that should be required reading for every business person, researcher, student, or teacher. A contemporary classic!

Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen and The Naked Presenter

Show Me the Numbers is not just a book on statistical graphics. It is the book on statistical graphics…A true masterpiece.

Alberto Cairo, author of The Functional Art

With calm clarity and well-crafted examples Stephen Few explains how to make comprehensible and even compelling tables and graphs…Their quality is not measured in byte counts, but in user insights, deep understandings, and confident decisions. Stephen Few's second edition of Show Me the Numbers will raise expectations and guide more data hackers to be information Rembrandts.

Ben Shneiderman, Professor at the University of Maryland and co-author of Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think

This is the best book there is if you are looking for practical, easy to follow design guidelines for presenting numerical data. Stephen Few's design examples are elegant and his design advice is right on the money.

Colin Ware, Professor at the University of New Hampshire and author of Information Visualization: Perception for Design

If you need to visualize complex information, this book will show you how...Compared with Tufte's book on charting, Few is more applied and provides more explicit guidelines for everyday datasets.

Jakob Nielsen, Principal, Nielsen Norman Group

Now You See It Cover Graphic

Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis, Stephen Few, $45.00 (U.S.), Analytics Press, 2009 (Table of Contents)

Now You See It does for data analysis what Stephen Few’s book Show Me the Numbers does for data presentation: it teaches simple, fundamental, practical techniques that anyone can use—only this time they're for making sense of information, not presenting it. These techniques rely primarily on something almost everyone has: vision. They use graphs to display data in ways that make trends, patterns, and exceptions visible and reveal the stories that lie within. These techniques also involve interacting with data in particular ways to tease out relevant facts and what they mean.

Although some quantitative data analysis can only be done using sophisticated statistical techniques, most of the questions that organizations typically ask about their data can be answered using simple visualization techniques—techniques that can be learned by people with little or no statistical training. In other words, Now You See It is for the great majority of people whose jobs require them to make sense of quantitative information. Until now, no book has done this, even though the need is huge, critical, and rapidly growing.

Articles by Stephen Few and Guest Authors

Visual Business Intelligence Newsletter
Heatmaps: to Bin or Not to Bin? Oct/Nov/Dec 2017
Journey to Zvinca: The Making of a New Chart Jul/Aug/Sep 2017
The DataVis Jitterbug: Let's Improve an Old Dance Apr/May/Jun 2017
Data Visualization Effectiveness Profile Jan/Feb/Mar 2017
The Visual Perception of Variation in Data Displays Oct/Nov/Dec 2016
Bar Widths and the Spaces in Between Jul/Aug/Sep 2016
Expressing Proportions Apr/May/Jun 2016
Visualizing Wide-Variation Data Nick Desbarats, Jan/Feb/Mar 2016
Information Visualization Research as Pseudo-Science Oct/Nov/Dec 2015
A Course of Study in Analytical Thinking Jul/Aug/Sep 2015
What Do Data Analysts Most Need from Their Tools? Apr/May/Jun 2015
Displaying Missing Values and Incomplete Periods in Time Series Jan/Feb/Mar 2015
Display Platforms for Quantitative Information Oct/Nov/Dec 2014
Distribution Displays, Conventional and Potential Jul/Aug/Sep 2014
Displaying Change Between Two Points in Time Apr/May/Jun 2014
Are Mosaic Plots Worthwhile? Jan/Feb/Mar 2014
Variation and Its Discontents Oct/Nov/Dec 2013
Wrapping Graphs to Extend Their Limits Jul/Aug/Sep 2013
Building Insight with Bricks Apr/May/Jun 2013
Introducing Bandlines Jan/Feb/Mar 2013
Best Practices for Scaling Sparklines in Dashboards Oct/Nov/Dec 2012
Big Data, Big Ruse Jul/Aug/Sep 2012
Criteria for Evaluating Visual EDA Tools Apr/May/Jun 2012
Use-Based Types of Quantitative Display Jan/Feb/Mar 2012
Benefitting InfoVis with Visual Difficulties? Oct/Nov/Dec 2011
Exploratory Vistas: Ways to Become Acquainted with a Data Set for the First Time Jul/Aug/Sep 2011
The Chartjunk Debate: A Close Examination of Recent Findings Apr/May/Jun 2011
Quantitative Displays for Combining Time-Series and Part-to-Whole Relationships Jan/Feb/Mar 2011
Unit Charts Are For Kids Oct/Nov/Dec 2010
Coordinated Highlighting in Context Jul/Aug/Sep 2010
Our Irresistible Fascination with All Things Circular Mar/Apr/May 2010
Quantitative Literacy Across the Curriculum Naomi and Joyce Robbins Feb 2010
Information Visualization, Design, and the Arts Jan 2010
Fundamental Differences in Analytical Tools Sep/Oct 2009
Statistical Narrative: Telling Compelling Stories with Numbers Jul/Aug 2009
Cartographic Malpractice May/Jun 2009
Introduction to Geographical Data Visualization Mar/Apr 2009
Sometimes We Must Raise Our Voices Jan/Feb 2009
Line Graphs and Irregular Intervals—An Incompatible Partnership Nov/Dec 2008
Solutions to the Problem of Over-Plotting in Graphs Sep/Oct 2008
What Ordinary People Need Most from Information Visualization Today Aug 2008
Time on the Horizon Jun/Jul 2008
What's Up with Tag Clouds? Marti A. Hearst, May 2008
Inflation Matters Jonathan Koomey, Apr 2008
Dual-Scaled Axes in Graphs Mar 2008
Practical Rules for Using Color in Charts Feb 2008
Introduction to Cycle Plots Naomi Robbins, Jan 2008
The Role of Software and the Importance of Thoughtful Defaults Dec 2007
Infovis as Seen by the World Out There: 2007 in Review Oct/Nov 2007
Visualizing Change: An Innovation in Time-Series Analysis Sep 2007
Save the Pies for Dessert Jul/Aug 2007
FYI Visual: The Story of a Product that was Built on a Fault Jun 2007
The Graph Design I.Q. Test May 2007
Intelligent Design: Introducing Tableau 3.0 Apr 2007
Dashboard Confusion Revisited Mar 2007
Sticky Stories Told with Numbers Feb 2007
Information Graphics: A Celebration and Recollection Aaron Marcus, Feb 2007
Pervasive Hurdles to Effective Dashboard Design Jan 2007
Data Visualizations that Set the Bar Where It Ought to Be Dec 2006
Dashboard Design for Rich and Rapid Monitoring Nov 2006

Business Intelligence Network (B-EYE-NETWORK)
Multivariate Analysis Using Heatmaps Oct 2006
Simple Displays of Complex Quantitative Relationships Oct 2006
Multivariate Analysis Using Parallel Coordinates Sep 2006
Graph Designs for Reviewing Transactions... Sep 2006
Review of Beautiful Evidence by Edward Tufte Aug 2006
Graph Designs for Assessing Budget Performance Aug 2006
An Introduction to Visual Multivariate Analysis Jul 2006
TableLens Ramana Rao, Jul 2006
Software Support for Immersive Business Intelligence Jun 2006
Customer Flashcards Chris and Zach Gemignani, Jun 2006
Excel's New Charting Engine May 2006
Hard Facts May 2006
The Surest Path to Visual Discovery Apr 2006
Discovering BI Using Treemap Visualizations Ben Shneiderman, Apr 2006
The Power of Visual Business Intelligence Mar 2006
Dot Plots: A Useful Alternative to Bar Charts Naomi Robbins, Mar 2006
Recommendations for Your Data Visualization Bookshelf Feb 2006
Best Practices for Understanding Data Jonathan Koomey, Feb 2006
Rules for Encoding Values in Graphs Jan 2006
Choosing Colors for Data Visualization Maureen Stone, Jan 2006
Discovering the Source of Business Intelligence Within Dec 2005

DM Review
Uses and Misuses of Color Nov 2005
Creative Visualization: Best in Show Oct 2005
Intelligent Dashboard Design Sep 2005
Boxes of Insight Aug 2005
Viewing Multidimensional Data Through Time Jul 2005
Graphic Grist for the Mill Jun 2005
Keep Radar Graphs Below the Radar — Far Below May 2005
Quantitative vs. Categorical Data April 2005
Dashboard Design: Taking a Metaphor Too Far Mar 2005
Grid Lines in Graphs are Rarely Useful Feb 2005
Bad Graphs: The Stealth Virus Jan 2005

Intelligent Enterprise
Put to the Test: Tableau 2.0 Aug 2006
Advizor Solutions Invites You to a Double Wedding Jan 2006
Visual Detraction Oct 2005
Data Analysis at the Speed of Thought Apr 2005
Elegance through Simplicity Oct 2004
Selecting the Right Graph for Your Message Sep 2004
Tapping the Power of Visual Perception Sep 2004
Common Mistakes in Data Presentation
Aug 2004
The Information Cannot Speak for Itself Jul 2004
Dashboard Confusion Mar 2004

His articles...are so plainly practical that I plan on printing them, rolling up the printouts, and beating bad designers on the head with them in the hope of knowledge transfer.

Tony Ramos, PowerPoint Consultant


With Dashboards, Formatting and Layout Definitely Matter Corda
Three Blind Men and an Elephant Tableau
Dashboard Design for Real-Time Situation Awareness Inova Solutions
Improve Your Vision and Expand Your Mind with Visual Analytics Tableau
Data Visualization — Past, Present, and Future Cognos
Visual Pattern Recognition Cognos
Visual Communication Cognos
Rich Data, Poor Data — Designing Dashboards to Inform Noetix
Common Pitfalls in Dashboard Design ProClarity
Visual and Interactive Analytics Spotfire
Effectively Communicating Numbers ProClarity

Other Brief Publications

Why Most Dashboards Fail
Graph Selection Matrix
Bullet Graph Design Specification
Dashboard Design Requirements Questionnaire
Potential InfoVis Research Projects List
The Graph Design I.Q. Test
Infographics and the Brain: Designing Graphics to Inform Presented at Malofiej 19
Data Visualization for Human Perception
Message to Executives about Data Presentation
Designing Effective Tables and Graphs
Practical Problem Solving Jonathan Koomey