Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - contact me Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca on Twitter Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Lumondo Photography Martin Krzywinski / Genome Sciences Center / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Hilbertonians - Creatures on the Hilbert Curve
Trance opera—Spente le Stellebe dramatic

design: fun


More than Pretty Pictures—Aesthetics of Data Representation, Denmark, April 13–16, 2015

design + visualization

VIZBI 2013 Keynote

Visual Design Principles—Communicating Effectively

This talk happened on Thursday, Mar 21st 2013 at VIZBI 2013 at the Broad Institute in Boston.

How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. An artist is emotional, they think, and uses only his intuition; he sees all at once and has no need of reason. A scientist is cold, they think, and uses only his reason; he argues carefully step by step, and needs no imagination. That is all wrong. The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers. —Isaac Asimov (The Roving Mind)

For more visualization and design resources, see my VIZBI 2012 tutorials, Nature Methods Points of View column, and rant about colors.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Do not allow encoding or other design choices to hijaack your message. Each element on the page must meaningfully contribute to your figure.

presentation video

The video will be posted at vizbi.org.

presentation slides

Slides are available as PDF and keynote (zipped).

Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
Martin Krzywinski - VIZBI 2013 Keynote - Visual Design Principles
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A poet is, after all, a sort of scientist, but engaged in a qualitative science in which nothing is measurable. He lives with data that cannot be numbered, and his experiments can be done only once. The information in a poem is, by definition, not reproducible. He becomes an equivalent of scientist, in the act of examining and sorting the things popping in [to his head], finding the marks of remote similarity, points of distant relationship, tiny irregularities that indicate that this one is really the same as that one over there only more important. Gauging the fit, he can meticulously place pieces of the universe together, in geometric configurations that are as beautiful and balanced as crystals. —Lewis Thomas (The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher)

breakout session—making good figures

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Sketch notes by the inimitable Francis Rowland from our breakout group. The question was: what do you need to make good figures? (PDF)

small, medium and big data visualization

If you're asking how to visualize big data, first make sure you're doing a good job on small and medium data. Each scale requires good design.

Do not expect to use one way
to tell many stories

Also consider that there is a very large number of combinations of data sets, hypotheses and possible patterns. Because of this, you cannot expect to use one way to tell many stories. There is no Holy Grail of big data visualization. But there are many good questions to ask and practices to follow that make up a process which can help you get there.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Medium data visualization. This is what happens when you show the data (a strategy that works for small data), instead of explaining it. Yup, we need to work on this too. (A) Qi X et al. J Biotech 144:43 (2012) (Saturation-Mutagenesis in Two Positions Distant from Active Site of a Klebsiella pneumoniae Glycerol Dehydratase Identifies Some Highly Active Mutants) (B) Alekseyev, M.A. et al. Genome Res 19:943 (2009) (Breakpoint graphs and ancestral genome reconstructions)
Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Big data visualization. Yes, data sets are growing but are visual and cognitive abilities are not. There are many data sets, each requiring its own approach. You cannot use one way to tell many stories. Lewis SN et al. PLoS ONE 6:e27175 (2011) (Prediction of Disease and Phenotype Associations from Genome-Wide Association Studies)

news + thoughts

Split Plot Design

Tue 03-03-2015

The split plot design originated in agriculture, where applying some factors on a small scale is more difficult than others. For example, it's harder to cost-effectively irrigate a small piece of land than a large one. These differences are also present in biological experiments. For example, temperature and housing conditions are easier to vary for groups of animals than for individuals.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Split plot design. (read)

The split plot design is an expansion on the concept of blocking—all split plot designs include at least one randomized complete block design. The split plot design is also useful for cases where one wants to increase the sensitivity in one factor (sub-plot) more than another (whole plot).

Altman, N. & Krzywinski, M. (2015) Points of Significance: Split Plot Design Nature Methods 12:165-166.

Background reading

1. Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Designing Comparative Experiments Nature Methods 11:597-598.

2. Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and blocking Nature Methods 11:699-700.

3. Blainey, P., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Replication Nature Methods 11:879-880.

...more about the Points of Significance column

Color palettes for color blindness

Tue 03-03-2015

In an audience of 8 men and 8 women, chances are 50% that at least one has some degree of color blindness1. When encoding information or designing content, use colors that is color-blind safe.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A 12-color palette safe for color blindness

Points of Significance Column Now Open Access

Tue 10-02-2015

Nature Methods has announced the launch of a new statistics collection for biologists.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column is now open access. (column archive)

As part of that collection, announced that the entire Points of Significance collection is now open access.

This is great news for educators—the column can now be freely distributed in classrooms.

...more about the Points of Significance column

Before and After—Designing Tiny Figures for Nature Methods

Tue 13-01-2015

I've posted a writeup about the design and redesign process behind the figures in our Nature Methods Points of Significance column.

I have selected several figures from our past columns and show how they evolved from their draft to published versions.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Fig 2 from Points of Significance: Nested designs. (Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Nature Methods 11:977-978.) (...more)

Clarity, concision and space constraints—we have only 3.4" of horizontal space— all have to be balanced for a figure to be effective.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Fig 2c (excerpt) from Points of Significance: Designing comparative experiments. (Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Nature Methods 11:597-598.) (...more)

It's nearly impossible to find case studies of scientific articles (or figures) through the editing and review process. Nobody wants to show their drafts. With this writeup I hope to add to this space and encourage others to reveal their process. Students love this. See whether you agree with my decisions!