Grafische Communicatie

Announcements 2002


This course in graphical communication concerns informational graphics---how information is transmitted by means of pictures, including the visual accompaniement of oral and written presentations of the sort found in scientific or business communications. In this course we critically examine graphical communication in a bottom-up fashion, i.e., by looking at lots of different kinds of graphics rather than proceeding from a general theory. Students will bcome acquainted with graphical communication not only through critical examination, but also by experimenting with graphical renderings made by readily available software. Most of the following will be the subject of study: textual tables, `bullet lists' (lists of keywords set off by `bullets', i.e., heavy dots), headings, schedules, barcharts, histograms, piecharts, line graphs, scatterplots, maps, schematics, flowcharts, genealogical trees, organizational charts, time series, Gantt and Pert charts.

Nederlandse Beschrijving


The focus of the course is on informational graphics, of the sorts listed in the description above. We shall have little to say about graphics which appeal to emotion, such as most advertisements, photos, sketches.

At the end of this course students should be able to do all of the following:

The technical means needed to make graphics accessible via the World-Wide Wide is not the subject of this course, but rather the subject of Electronisch Publiceren (in Alfa-informatiekunde) and Tekst en Informatietechnologie (in Communicatie- en Informatiewetenschap).


Edward Tufte The Visual Display of Quantitative Information Cheshire, Conn, USA: Graphics Press. 1983.


John Nerbonne,, H1311.436
Nicolaas Roelfsema,, H1311.427
Office Hours (JN): Mon. 17-18 (after lecture)

Meeting Times (2002)

Lecture: Mon. 15-17 pm Academiegeb. 8
Laboratory: Thurs.9-11 am H1312.126-132

Practical Sessions

For practical assignments we assume you have an account on LO1. You can obtain an account from Mr. Da Costa, Harmonie 1313, room 438, Mon-Fri-vrij 10.30-12.00, Mon-Thurs 14-15.30. Bring your collegekaart along!


This course is normally taken for three credit hours (studiepunten). In that case, grades depend on practical exercises (20%), an oral presentation supported by visual material (20%), and a written exam (60%). The course may also be taken for four points, in which a small project must be done reporting on a form of informational graphic which isn't otherwise covered. We have several suggestions for addtional projects which may be done. In the four-point variant the exam counts 40%, the extra project 20%, and the other sections the same.


Week Theme Readings Sheets Remarks
1. Sept 2 Why Graphically? Motivation
Context Graphics in Oral, Written Presentation Bertin's Graphic Classifier
2. Sept. 9 Weather Maps Tufte, Ch.1,5 Looking Closely Weather map notes
Tables Organizing Tables Table notes.
Table notes, 2.
3. Sept 16 Numerical Graphs Tufte Ch.2-4 Basic Numerical Graphs Numerical notes
4. Sept. 23 Problematic Numerical Graphs
Tufte, Ch.6 Numeric Relations
-- Sept. 30 No class. No class. Instructor abroad.
5. Oct. 7 Node & Edge Graphs Family Trees, Syntax Trees Org Charts
Dynamic Edges Classification, State Diagrams, and Internet Communication
Flowcharts, Dataflow Diagrams, Chemical Diagrams Flowcharts
6. Oct. 14 Time Gantt and Pert Charts Management graphics
7. Oct. 21 Principles Tufte, Part II Kosslyn's Maxims
8. Oct. 28 Maps, Schematics Maps, Intro Map notes
Dialect Maps
9. Nov. 4 Roelfsema on Pictograms
10. Nov. 11 Graphics in User Interfaces Usability Usability and Graphics
Exam Preparation Sample Exam


A good deal of the material, particularly that in the notes, was originally collected and analysed by students. I'm pleased to thank the following: So Young van Hoeven (Weather Maps); Manfred Schürhof (Class Schedules); Martijn Langenhuizen and Rutger Wessels (Top Pop Charts and "How-To's" in Word, HTML & Excel Tables); Arthur de Groot (Maps); Esra van den Akker and Marten de Vuyst (Organization Charts); Ielka van der Sluis (Flowcharts); and Rutger Wessels, Robert Bouma, and Martijn Langerhuizen (Project Management Graphics). Nicolaas Roelfsema put together most of the practical exercises, and Peter Meindertsma cleaned up the .html in the practicals.

Practical Sessions

Five written exercises plus one power point presentation.

Example Examination

Evaluation by Communications students in 1999

2000 Conference on Diagrammatic Reasoning

John Nerbonne
Last modified: Tues Sept 10, 2002