Andy Taylor

Andy Taylor

Edward Tufte’s ‘Slopegraphs’

Nov 8, 2012 —

Charlie Park:

Back in 2004, Edward Tufte defined and developed the concept of a “sparkline.” Odds are good that — if you’re reading this — you’re familiar with them and how popular they’ve become.

What’s interesting is that over 20 years before sparklines came on the scene, Tufte developed a different type of data visualization that didn’t fare nearly as well. To date, in fact, I’ve only been able to find three examples of it, and even they aren’t completely in line with his vision.

I’ve only skim-read it, but The Visual Display of Quantitative Information is an excellent book. The Slopegraph (or Table-Graphic) is a great example of Tufte’s work. I love that the entire chart is data; if it were printed, not one drop of ink would be wasted.

Brian Suda’s book A Practical Guide to Designing with Data beat into me that any piece of data design should have as little ‘ink’ as possible; however, it is so rarely possible to achieve 100% data.

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