Chapter 2

Crafting for Clarity

“For me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity.” —Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

If you find yourself using text captions to explain parts of your visual, or if your audience asks you to explain how a chart is structured, or if—as happens to me sometimes—someone looks at your chart and blurts out, What exactly am I looking at? then the chart isn’t clear. A clear chart communicates its ideas with little or no intervention. It stands on its own and sometimes produces what one data scientist (now an executive with the San Antonio Spurs) calls a “bliss point”—a moment when we feel we get it, instantly and without thinking.

That feeling is different from the one we get from eye candy—really pretty charts ...

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