Book review: “Show me the Numbers” by Steven Few

This post is a quick review of “Show Me The Numbers” by Steven Few (ISBN 0-970601-99-9)

How many times have you looked at a chart or report and said to yourself “This is rubbish?”. More than a few times, I’m sure. But how well could you articulate why it’s bad, or what could be done to fix it? If you’re like me, a data monkey, probably not very well. This book helps you build the skills to understand and fix these problems.

The book walks through the basic principles of representing data through Charts and Tables – what works and what doesn’t – and importantly illustrating all the way with clear examples that demonstrate why things don’t work, as well as their resolution. It also provides work through examples that help you build your skills in addressing the issues of data visualisation.

It does have a chapter on Visual Perception theory, which is more there for the curious, and at the end gets into probably a bit too much detail on charts – but overall the content of this book is very solid.

So – do you ever create charts or tables – be it in Excel , SSRS or even on paper? If so I’d thoroughly recommend this book to help you be more effective.

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