Section: New Results

An Exploratory Study of Word-Scale Graphics in Data-Rich Text Documents

Participants : Pascal Goffin [correspondant] , Jeremy Boy, Wesley Willett, Petra Isenberg.

Figure 16. Examples of word-scale graphics collected during the study.

We investigated the design and function of word-scale graphics and visualizations embedded in text documents. Word-scale graphics include both data-driven representations such as word-scale visualizations and sparklines, and non-data-driven visual marks. There has been little research attention on their design, function, and use so far. We present the results of an open ended exploratory study with nine graphic designers. The study resulted in a rich collection of different types of graphics, data provenance, and relationships between text, graphics, and data. Based on this corpus, we present a systematic overview of word-scale graphic designs, and examine how designers used them. We also discuss the designers' goals in creating their graphics, and characterize how they used word-scale graphics to visualize data, add emphasis, and create alternative narratives. We discuss implications for the design of authoring tools for word-scale graphics and visualizations building on these examples, and explore how new authoring environments could make it easier for designers to integrate them into documents.