To be clear about the topics that this book covers, we must define the terms that we will be using frequently. Some are nuanced and might seem redundant. There are a variety of disciplines that deal with information and data, visualization, and design—and the people in all of them have different thoughts and opinions about the way these terms should be used. As such, these are not technical or official definitions; they are simply those that serve us best for the applications we will be discussing in this book.


Knowledge in the form of words, numbers, or concepts that can be communicated.


Quantifiable information. Though data can take various forms, in this book we typically consider data to be numerical. It is debated whether the word “data” should be treated as singluar or plural. From its Latin origins, it is plural; the singular form of the word is “datum.” In modern language, however, it is most commonly used as a singular mass noun.

Data Set

A categorized collection of data that has been filtered at some level, the insights of which people can recognize more simply through visualization.


The concept, functionality, and graphic output intended to solve a specific problem.


A hand-drawn or vector-based depiction of an object. In infographics, we can use illustration to display the anatomy of an object or to add aesthetic appeal.


We will use this term to mean “information visualization.” A photograph or ...

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