Tufte Chapter 3 Response Layering and Separation

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On page 53 Tufte introduces the topic saying that to avoid confusion and clutter separation and layering reduce noise and enriche content of displays. These design devices are used to distinguish various aspects of the data so that they don't become noise and clutter.

"Layering of data, often achieved by felicitous subtraction of weight, enhances representation of both data dimensionality and density on flatland."

Tufte shoes that signal to noise ratio is critical to reduce viewer fatigue(pg 62) and improve accuracy of readings.

"Clarity is not everything, but there is little without it." Tufte pg 62

We are so tempted to fill up empty space. Horror vacui or fear of empty spaces is worth overcoming. Tufte makes his point about increasing the signal to noise ratio with layering and separation.



I think there definitely is a

I think there definitely is a fear of blank space. But, looking at all good designs, there is a focal point and beyond that there usually isn't too much clutter. You just have to make that focal point interesting enough, I guess, so that the blank space can actually remain blank.

Empty Spaces

I like how mentioned the design principle of horror vacui. Effective use of white space is very important when displaying lots of data.

I think a healthy balance is

I think a healthy balance is good because I can't stand to use Apple's maps app for the iPhone. Different colors and things like street names and addresses would be good layers for Apple to incorporate.


As far as reducing noise, I especially liked his example of the grid where the harsh lines were reduced. Separation was still created for areas that needed it but also taken away from areas that didn't. The noise was decreased over all, increasing the comprehensiveness of the chart.