Section: New Results

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

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

Figure 7. Overview of the word-scale visualizations created in our study.

We contribute an investigation of 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. Their design, function, and use has so far received little research attention. We conducted an open ended exploratory study with 9 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 derived a systematic overview of word-scale graphic designs, and examine how designers used them. We also discussed the designers’ goals in creating their graphics, and characterized how they used word-scale graphics to visualize data, add emphasis, and create alternative narratives. Building on these examples, we discuss implications for the design of authoring tools for word-scale graphics and visualizations, and explore how new authoring environments could make it easier for designers to integrate them into documents.