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

Pascal Goffin , Jeremy Boy , Wesley Willett , Petra Isenberg



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 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. 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.

Keywords:  Word Scale VisualizationWord Scale GraphicText VisualizationSparklinesAuthoring ToolInformation Visualization


Pascal Goffin, Jeremy Boy, Wesley Willett, Petra IsenbergAn Exploratory Study of Word-Scale Graphics in Data-Rich Text DocumentsIn IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG '17)IEEE, New York, NY, USA  Page: 1-13.  DOI: