Books on data visualization

I present to you the best books on data visualization that I have read during my professional career.

If data analysis is part of your daily life, I recommend training in visualization techniques.

Data does not speak for itself, we must convey its meaning, refine the message through data. Both when you create reports for your colleagues, bosses or clients, and when you present them in meetings to make quick and precise decisions.

REMEMBER: Not mastering visualization and navigation techniques is one of the 3 most harmful mistakes you make with Power BI. If you want to know all three, download my free ebook by clicking click in the image:

I assure you that if you train in visualization techniques you will notice a qualitative improvement in your reports and dashboards. And especially, You'll help your bosses, colleagues and customers make better decisions.

If you go through the entire process of generating valuable insights, accurately calculating KPIs… Why not offer the best visualizations?

That's why I wrote this article where I'll show you the books on visualization that I find most interesting and what I've learned from each of them and am applying in my daily life..

I will introduce you to many of these books and then classify and group them according to various criteria, to make it easier for you to choose the next data visualization book you read????

Table of Contents
  1. The best books on data visualization I've read are
    1. Show Me the Numbers: Designing Charts and Graphs to Enlighten – Stephen Few
    2. Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis – Stephen Few
    3. Storytelling with Data: A Guide to Data Visualization for Business Professionals – Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic
    4. The Big Book of Dashboards: Visualizing Data Using Real Business Scenarios – Jeffrey Shaffer, Andy Cotgreave
    5. Insight Dashboard Design: Visualizing Data for Instant Monitoring – Stephen Few
  2. Books on data visualization by author
    1. Stefano Few
    2. Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic
    3. Other authors
  3. Books on data visualization in Spanish
  4. Books on data visualization that have most changed the way I present data

The best books on data visualization I've read are

Show Me the Numbers: Designing Charts and Graphs to Enlighten – Stephen Few

Show me the numbers - Stephen FewShow me the numbers - Stephen Few

This is a book that everyone who works with data visualization should read. For me, Stephen Few is one of the best authors on this topic and this is his main book. As it is commonly said, it is "the bible of visualization". That book that we all have to read sooner or later. And the sooner, the better.

In the first chapters we talk about the fundamentals of visualization, fundamental concepts, which at first glance will seem strange to you, but which will then make it much easier for you to understand what you are doing and how the human eye and brain behave when interpreting visualizations. Nothing more than this is worth it. And this is just the introduction and first chapters of the book.

Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis – Stephen Few

Now You See It – Stephen FewNow You See It – Stephen Few

This is another book by the same author, which I recommend, provided you have read the first one. Both are complementary, although keep in mind that you will find common things in the content, especially in some chapters. And otherwise it focuses directly on quantitative visualization. This book will allow you to delve deeper into what was seen in the previous one, applied specifically to quantitative data.

Storytelling with Data: A Guide to Data Visualization for Business Professionals – Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

Telling stories with dataTelling stories with data

This is one of the last books I read and one of the ones I recommend most. It shows the basic principles of visualization, contains many examples, and takes visualization techniques a step further by providing how to tell data-driven stories. Be careful, the others also address this topic indirectly, but this one, as the title indicates, talks about it in more depth. Telling a story starting from data is a further goal that we all must achieve. For me this book has these great advantages:

  • Small format (240 pages)
  • Clear and concise
  • He has good examples
  • Tackle something fundamental today by going beyond simple visualization by telling stories with data
  • It is the only one of this report that has been translated into Spanish -> Storytelling with data (wiley – Anaya)

And what better complement to this book than this one by the same author, totally dedicated to practical cases????


The Big Book of Dashboards: Visualizing Data Using Real Business Scenarios – Jeffrey Shaffer, Andy Cotgreave

The big book of dashboardsThe big book of dashboards

This is another one of those very practical books that I will talk about in this final section. There are many practical examples that will help you see what different scenarios look like. It is an absolutely advisable book, even if for me, again in my personal opinion, it has two points that are not very in its favour:

  • All examples are very focused on one specific tool: Tableau
  • I see the pages, from my point of view, a little saturated in terms of the number of visual elements they show, I am in favor of overloading less and adding more navigation between reports

But don't let that discount you, it's still one of the best books on visualization I've ever read and that's why it's in this article and I recommend it.

Insight Dashboard Design: Visualizing Data for Instant Monitoring – Stephen Few

Information Dashboard Design - Stephen FewInformation Dashboard Design - Stephen Few

This is a very practical book, what gave me the most was a large number of examples, made with a wide variety of tools, so as to be aware that the problem lies not in the tool, but in applying good techniques display with it. .

The best thing is that it shows many bad examples, with great possibilities for improvement. And then, it shows you how to improve them by applying good visualization practices.

All these books are recommended.

Yes, I recommend them all. I've read them all. And from all of them I'm applying things that have significantly improved the reports, dashboards and dashboards that I design.

Now I want to help you in your choice, so I will make various classifications of the previous books, according to different criteria, to help you decide which ones to read and in which order.

There is no set rule here.

There is no single order.

I won't choose for you either????

I just want to make your journey easier and get you started building better reports and dashboards as soon as possible.

Books on data visualization by author

Stefano Few

For me, the author who contributed the most in terms of visualization techniques and good practices. By making me aware of all the bases on which to then base the other knowledge acquired:

  • Show me the numbers: Design charts and graphs to enlighten
  • Now you see it: simple visualization techniques for quantitative analysis
  • Information dashboard design: Data visualization for immediate monitoring

Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

Another of the greats in the world of visualization. If you read any of his books you will see the great career he has had, not only mastering these techniques, but applying them to giants like Google:

  • Storytelling with data: A guide to data visualization for business professionals
  • Telling stories with data. Data visualization for professionals (this is the translation of the previous one)
  • Storytelling with data: let's practice!

Other authors

Even though I know less about them, they are still amazing. I advise:

  • The Big Book of Dashboards: Visualize Data Using Real Business Scenarios

Books on data visualization in Spanish

I only read this one that I already quoted above:

  • Telling stories with data. Data visualization for professionals (this is the translation of the previous one)

First of all, I'll tell you that they are all very easy to read books, due to their clear and direct language and because they are continually accompanied by images that represent what is explained. They all have hundreds of images. I don't want you to see the fact that they are in English as a limitation. But if you still prioritize the book being in Spanish, this should be your choice.

I have it in English and Spanish. I initially read it in English, then it came out in Spanish and I wanted to reread, for the first time, a book on this topic in Spanish????

Books on data visualization that have most changed the way I present data

And finally the two books that struck me the most:

  • Show me the numbers: Design charts and graphs to enlighten
  • Telling stories with data. Data visualization for professionals (this is the translation of the previous one)

That doesn't mean they're the ones who will do the most for you. It all depends on your knowledge and experience on the subject, the moment in your professional life in which you read them, the books that have been published at that time (there are always more)... and above all on how you apply them in your day . It's not about reading, it's about applying, applying and applying.

Have you chosen which book will elevate you in your professional career? Take action and start reading it now.

REMEMBER: Not mastering visualization techniques is one of the biggest mistakes people make when analyzing data with Power BI

If you want to get the best results with Power BI I invite you to download this guide:
Power BI: the 3 most harmful mistakes and how to avoid them

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