18 August 2022

Review: Storytelling with Data

Cover to book "Storytelling With Data"

Some scientists might pass over Storytelling With Data (2015) because they have an incredible aversion to the word “storytelling.” Author Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic might drive off some people when she writes things like, “The magic of story.” It can sound a little hippy dippy trippy sometimes.

If “story” and “storytelling” freak you out, let me make a pitch for this book and give you another way to look at it.

Most of the book is about annotated data visualization. Fully seven of the book’s ten chapters are devoted to picking apart and recreating graphs. 

For example, Knaflic takes a mundane bar graph like this:

Bar graph of annual retail prices per year.

And shows the process to get to this:

Annotated line graph of annual retail prices per year.

Same data set. But one has a much clearer focus on what information is critical to the viewer.

I sometimes do similar things with graphs here on the blog, and some of the principles will be familiar to readers of the Better Posters book. But this book drills down into making a single graph in a much deeper way, with many more examples.

How to take a single graph from an Excel default and into something more targeted and informative has been on my mind a lot lately, and this book is the best I have found on the subject so far. Recommended.

Related posts

Same graph, different narratives

External links 

Storytelling with Data website

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