Course Basics

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tips for Assignment #2

Good evening AMD students,

On Thursday I will hand back Assignment #1 and pick up Assignment #2. I have developed the following guidelines to help you avoid some common pitfalls in selection, citation description and layout.

For the three good examples and the counter-example, select truly exemplary models from a variety of sources.

Citation of the Source
Trace each examples to its source (publication, author, date) wherever possible. Whether working from paper or digital images be sure to find the highest quality image you can. (For digital images you can go to Google Images and use advanced search tools to limit the search to very large files.) In some cases you may discover that a graphic you reproduced is just a fragment of the original. For instance this map of Toronto language groups has its origins in this more extensive cluster of graphics with accompanying text. If you can’t at least find the publication and date (ideally with any accompanying text) then you should find another example.

Like all images, data graphics in the digital age tend to take on lives of their own, unmoored from the accompanying explanation. Both as a critic and a producer, be sure to sure to follow Minard in including such information as the author or explanatory text indicating the sources and the mechanics of your diagram, including any interactive features or accompanying didactics. The best data visualizations will already contain a lot of explanation in the form of a precise title, clear labels, and indication of such things as the data set, author and publisher.

If you refer to EI or other published sources beyond the source for your graphic then it may help to indicate the page number.

Use precise terminology, indicating up front whether your image is a scatterplot, bar graph, line graph, &c. In the second assignment much of the material will be more vague (e.g. data graphic, diagram, thematic map) but it is still good to begin with a concise overview of what you’re showing. See what language Tufte uses to describe similar images.

Do whatever it takes to serve the content. As a rule assignments should be on letter size paper or larger in which large, clear colour images take up most of the space. The remaining space should consist of concise analysis plus enough margins on the sides and bottom for the instructor to write comments.

Here's an example of some layout and citation ideas worth emulating. The landscape format establishes a good parity between examples and commentary.

Hoping this helps,


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