Summary of research progress

After a little more than two months of continual research regarding our big issue, proclaimed in our very first post - in short: how does typography in every conceivable fashion correlate with visualization, we are now able to do a concentration on our research work.

Relatively early in the beginning, where we were searching for a kind of structure for how to grasp typographical affairs in data visualizations, we found a slightly pragmatic but as it turned out a very appropriate taxonomy for the identified questions.



With this lockup we were able to focus on various specific fields of interests which were worked up in the categorization of general research, practical oriented experiments and not least inspirational work that has been done. This division structures and could also be used for sorting this blog.



This form of combination is mostly found in cartography or classic data visualisation form, such as diagrams. Common problems occur with overlapping text elements or the lack of distinction between labeling and background elements.

Therefore it was appropriate to do many little experiments regarding typical visual problems in different visualization types and how to easily solve them.

classical treemap
radial treemap



The reason why examples of this type where typography is used as the medium is commonly found in artistic works is the hindered metering of the underlaying data.

In this category we did also experiments to get a good insight how problems could be rethought especially in case of word cloud visualizations. Beside that we did somewhat research which impact cartography had in terms of visualization with typography.

City Demographics
Rethinking Word Clouds
Type Only Cartography



The third form of the suggested taxonomy is often used to enable a more accessible way to the structure or substance of the text. Therefor the qualitative information is transformed into more quantitive values which can be visualised.

This is also the most recent form of how to handle typography in visualizations and for that firstly a theoretical approach helped us a lot to define current characteristics and furthermore we developed very elaborated examples, which show in good way what is possible.

Text with graphical complements
Practial Example



As a first outcome for our whole research process we decided to share this list of important visual encodings. These all were key facts which occurred many times in our practices and give good overview which notions should be minded or which faults could easily be avoided.

Webtypografie Präsentation-01

In the following to make this table more comprehensible a specification with our present experiments on this blog and how they relate to our system of visual encoding:

Radial Tree Improvements - Shape (Style, Weight) and Orientation (Rotation)
Typographic Hierarchy in Tree Maps - Size (Scale), Position (x/y-Axis) and Color (Opacity, Value)
Typographic Hierarchy in Tree Layouts - Shape (Style, Weight)
City Demographics - Size (Scale)
Rethinking Word Clouds - Size (Scale), Position (x/y-Axis) and Color (Opacity, Value)


Next to the applied advices, we got into problems that not can’t be easily solved but made us aware of the following topics, which are itself very interesting and offer a lot of potential for further research.

1. Semantic content

We are living in a cultural world and we are all part of cultural notions. We must be aware of this circumstances to create and shape in a meaningful and viable way.



2. Intrinsic data

Kind of a required conclusion of the first consideration is the condition, that our human language and particularly scripture has developed a own meaning by itself. So in concrete terms the shape and the length of words are statements itself you must be conscious about.



3. Gestalt psychology

As every designer knows every design decision has a meaningful impact on the product and in the case of typography in visualizations this factor becomes a new perception.



4. Additive data dimensions

An important fact that comes with the usage of text is the case, that text can add a additional dimension to data points, which offers a different usage of text and new visualization possibilities.



5. Textualization of visualizations

Especially in the field of visualizations visuals are not the only way to explain data or information. Sometimes the intentional usage of typography alongside graphics is the best way to deserve the data. So images are working just as an impression and the text offers the concrete information.



6. Typography as design patterns

Another interesting approach is it, to use typography as a draft for design decisions, as described in Dan Mall’s article.



Many thanks for reading,

Paul, Jonas and Kim