Introduction to the Second Edition
This new edition provides high-resolution color reproductions of the many graphics of William Pbyfair, adds color to other images
where appropriate, and includes all the changes and corrections accumulated during the 17 printings of the first edition.
This book began in 1975 when Dean Donald Stokes of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School asked me to teach statistics to a dozen
journalists who were visiting that year to learn some economics.I annotated a collection of readings, with a long section on
statistical graphics. The literature here was thin, too often grimly devoted to explaining use of the ruling pen and to promulgating
"graphic standards" indifferent to the nature of visual evidence and quantitative reasoning. Soon I wrote up some ideas. Then John
Tukey, the phenomenal Princeton statistician, suggested that we give a series of joint seminars. Since the mid-1960s, Tukey had
opened up the field, as his brilliant technical contributions made it clear that the study of statistical graphics was intellectually
respectable and not just about pie charts and ruling pens.
After moving to Yale University, I finished the manuscript in 1982. A publisher was interested but planned to print only 2,000 copies and to charge a very high price, contrary to my hopes for a wide readership. I also sought to design the book so as to make it self-exemplifying that is, the physical object itself would reflect the intellectual principles advanced in the book. Publishers seemed appalled at the prospect that an author might govern design.
Consequently I investigated self-publishing. This required a first-rate book designer, a lot of money (at least for a young professor}, and a large garage. I found Howard Gralla who had designed many museum catalogs with great care and craft. He was| work closely with this difficult author who was filled with all sorts of opinions about design and typography. We spent the summer
his studio laying out the book, page by page. We were able to integrate graphics right into the text, sometimes into the middle of a sentence, eliminating the usual separation of text and image-one of the ideas Visual Display advocated. To finance the book I took out another mortgage on my home. The bank officer said this was the second most unusual loan that she had ever made; first place belonged to a loan to a circus to buy an elephant!
My view on self-publishing was to go all out, to make the best and most elegant and wonderful book possible, without compromise. Otherwise, why do it?