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The DNA of information design for charts and diagrams

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A comprehensive framework is presented for analyzing and specifying an extensive range of visualizations, such as statistical charts, maps, family trees, Venn diagrams, flow charts, texts using indenting, technical drawings and scientific illustrations. This paper describes how the fundamental ‘DNA’ building blocks of visual encoding and composition can be combined into ‘visualization patterns’ that specify these and other types of visualizations. We offer different ways of specifying each visualization pattern, including through a DNA tree diagram and through a rigorously systematic natural language sentence. Using this framework, a design tool is proposed for exploring visualization design options.

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Keywords: chart types; design space; diagrammatic DNA; graphic language; visual encoding; visual grammar; visualization patterns

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 31, 2019

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