Graphical Perception: Theory, Experimentation, and Application to the Development of Graphical Methods

Posted on September 14, 2016
Category: bibliography

I found this[1] through ReVision[2], the system that reads data out of visualizations and then recreates them in a new form which is theoretically more perceptually effective.

I thought it was interesting that this article seemed to be the definitive article ranking the effectiveness of the visualizations. This started a long process which also led me to Jock Mackinlay's PHD diseration[3].

I wonder about specific elements of this, how well have the bar charts with outlines held up? There is no data on the effectiveness of the comparison of curves, maybe intuition is wrong? Could this be fixed by creating a new mapping that places the curves based on their distance from the closest point on the other?

[1] R. M. William S. Cleveland, “Graphical perception: Theory, experimentation, and application to the development of graphical methods,” Journal of the American Statistical Association, vol. 79, no. 387, pp. 531–554, 1984 [Online]. Available:

[2] M. Savva, N. Kong, A. Chhajta, L. Fei-Fei, M. Agrawala, and J. Heer, “ReVision: Automated classification, analysis and redesign of chart images,” in Proceedings of the 24th annual acm symposium on user interface software and technology, 2011, pp. 393–402 [Online]. Available:

[3] J. D. Mackinlay, “Automatic design of graphical presentations,” PhD thesis, Stanford Univ., CA (USA), 1987 [Online]. Available: