Getting information from a table is like extracting sunlight from a cucumber ( Farquhar & Farquhar, 1891)
The disdain shown by these two 19th-century economists reflected a minority opinion at that time. Since then the use of graphs for data analysis and communication has increased in fits and starts. Strangely, we find that the quality of graphs used has not increased since the time of Playfair's invention, and the tables, spoken of so disparagingly by the Farquhars, remain, to a large extent, worthy of contempt. This chapter has been a review of methods new and old, that improve the way that graphs and tables can be used to aid in the depiction, exploration, summarization, and communication of data.
The initial version of this chapter owed a great deal of its substance and thought to the help provided by the many colleagues who responded to our initial letter