Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals

Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals

By: Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic
  • Introductory data visualization book to help you leverage the power of storytelling with your data
  • Understand the importance of context and audience
  • Recognize and eliminate the clutter clouding your information

Fantastic writing on how to build sets of images

I am a university professor who teaches biostatistics and I find this to be one of the best books that bridges the gap between analytics and presentation. There are some excellent books around that show visualization (e.g., The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures or books by Few Information Dashboard Design: Displaying Data for At-a-Glance Monitoring & Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten or Cairo The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication ) and there are good books on presentation (in particular I love Duarte's books Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences ) but this book is unique in how well it blends the two topics. I have never seen such an excellent presentation on how to build a series of graphics. That is, with books by Few or Cairo you will know how to make *a* great graphic and with advice from Duarte, you can connect with your audience but with this book you will see how to build a series of interrelated graphics that highlight different parts of a dataset. Most of the examples are spun around business but the examples are easy to extend to any field.

While I think the author wrote this for people who do presentations in any quantitative field for a living, this book should be required reading for graduate students preparing to defend a dissertation or thesis.

I Teach Typing

I Teach Typing

Miami, Florida USA

More Praises

This book is SO good and SO useful

This book was required by my data visualization class. I wasn't able to find a cheap used version of this book so I ended up reading the temporary PDF my school had at the library. Let's just say this... This book is SO good and SO useful, that I ended up shelling out money to buy it AFTER I've read the book already and AFTER the class was over. I think it's just such a handy guide for anyone to have. I'm sick of crappy presentations overloaded with meaningless data that don't convey any useful information. If you are too, I highly recommend this book.



This is a joke, right? Received misprinted trapezoid shaped "book"

The "book" arrived as a trapezoidal nightmare! I'm not sure who's in charge of quality control at the printing press but this is just ridiculous. First, I'm baffled as to how this can leave the printing press in this condition. Second, how can the person fulfilling the order not see that the book is malformed?? Really? I'll admit, I did get a nice laugh. But the joke's on me. Now I have waste my time returning this monstrosity.



Much of this advice is not new or groundbreaking and can be found for free on the internet

My office was raving about this book, but I found this book to be extremely disappointing.

The book was so basic as to be insulting. I literally GROANED as the author explained, as if this were a groundbreaking concept, to know your audience. I rolled my eyes as she delivered Pro-Tips® like: "don't clutter your slides!" And "don't read off your slides when delivering a presentation".

Do you remember that introduction to public speaking class you took in high school/ college? Yup. This is that without the benefit of having in-class practice time.

Pro-Tip® Skip it!

Antonio Guster

San Jose, CA, US

Tell a story like a script director. Present a slide like a designer

The author, Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic, uses simple examples and explains to every reader about how to communicate to audience using data.

You could implement these concepts by hand. Learning how to use PowerPoint well doesn’t mean you could give an excellent presentation to the audience. You must display your idea like a well-trained designer and tell a story like a Hollywood script director.

So, the author borrows some professional elements from design and script-writing such as affordance, acceptance and storyboarding. In the chapter of “case studies”, the author demonstrates how she would fix the not-so-good graphs by the concepts covering in this book.

Telling an emotional or persuasive story using data is a hard work. If we don’t consciously recognize that this takes time to do well. We run the risk of losing the potential opportunity to drive change and action.
This is the final step the audience will see. We should devote our time to storytelling with data.

Writing Being


Effectiveness Through Simplicity

I work in the project controls arena of large projects that have hundreds, if not thousands of people working on them. A key requirement for project controls is to keep all project personnel informed about the project status. Needless to say engineering plays a major role on these projects and brings lots of data with them; pages and pages of it. As the author points out the analytical types are not necessarily trained on how to tell a story (i.e. communicate) with their data.
For the last 10 years or so, I have developed methods for getting the project story down to a single graphic. It's usually a large graphic, but a single one. It has the effect of getting everyone on the same page. But for people who are not used to looking at this type of presentation, it can be overwhelming or as the author points out they have to work at it in order to understand it. This was a key point for me.
Before I finished the book, I started making changes in my work products. They were small changes, but the feedback was very positive. One example, do you ever note information in page footers like date, time and maybe filename and path? Does anyone think to put them in the background by using a shade of gray instead of the default black? No! Try it. Then ask for opinions It doesn't sound like much, but it's reducing the competition on people's focus.
This book is great! It's fairly short to read and has a lot of examples making it easy to follow the author's intent. She obviously is very good at her profession. If I had to pick one book as a recommendation to someone who wants to learn about making great presentation graphics, I will point to this book. I highly recommend it. But, the book doesn't stop there, the author has included a listing of resources (e.g. books and websites) for continued learning.

Kindle Customer

Engineer | Eustis, Florida United States

Book Details

Publisher : Wiley; 1st edition (November 2, 2015)
Language: : English
Paperback : 288 pages
ISBN-10 : 1119002257
ISBN-13 : 978-1119002253
Item Weight : 1.44 pounds
Dimensions : 7.3 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
Best Sellers Rank : #3,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#1 in Business Mathematics
#2 in Information Management (Books)
#3 in Library & Information Sciences

About the Author

Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic


Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic tells stories with data. She is founder & CEO of storytelling with data (SWD) and author of Storytelling With Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals and Storytelling with Data: Let’s Practice! SWD’s well-regarded workshops and presentations are highly sought after by data-minded individuals, companies, and philanthropic organizations all over the world. Learn more at

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