“The skills required for most effectively displaying information are not intuitive and rely largely on principles that must be learned,” says Stephen Few in his excellent book “Show Me the Numbers.”

In principle, I agree.

But there is a problem: Some of the skills can only be learned by practice. Knowing what makes a purely functional chart doesn’t teach you about human psychology and the need to engage as well as inform. Experience of failure and success, learned early on, teaches you as much as books.

Unfortunately, I see many people intimidated by other experts and fearful of getting involved. They feel like they need to reach a high bar before they get going (see the comments on this post as an example).

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