General rules for chart design

September 20, 2010
  • horizontal format if possible; Golden section/ratio: 1:1.618
  • labels to be read from left to right; no line breaks
  • x axis: cause; y axis: effect
  • words are spelled out, mysterious and elaborate encoding avoided
  • little messages help explain data
  • elaborately encoded shadings, crosshatching, and colors are avoided; instead, labels are placed on the graphic itself; no legend is required
  • colors, if used, are chosen so that the color deficient and color blind (5 – 10 percent of viewers) can make sense of the graphic (blue can be distinguished from other colors by most color-deficient people)
  • type is upper-and-lower case, with serifs

Tufte 2001


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