Guidelines & Resources

Data visualization guidelines and resources for human rights researchers and advocates.


Maps for Advocacy

Informational, introductory PDF on mapping. Includes brief case studies and resources.

Visualizing Information for Advocacy, 2008

Informational, introductory PDF on information design for non-profits.

Visualizing Information for Advocacy, 2013

PDF about using visual information for action including case studies and resources. Also available for purchase in print.

Making Research Useful: Current Challenges and Good Practices in Data Visualisation

An informational PDF on data visualization for academic research from the Oxford University.

Writing a Data Visualization Brief

PDF tipsheet and questions to help write a detailed design brief for commissioning a data visualisation project.

Defending Dignity: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions on Monitoring Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

PDF and video overview on monitoring, collecting, analyzing and communicating data for human rights issues. With exercises, key questions, case studies, further readings.

Creating Charts that Show Trends: Choosing a Chart Type

PDF on different chart types and working with them in Excel.

Which chart or graph is right for you?

PDF on chart and graph types, and working with them using Tableau.

Understanding Data Visualisations

Online introduction for the public on how to understand data visualizations.

Verification Handbook

Guide to verifying digital, user-generated content for emergency coverage.


A guide to navigate and integrate digital data in human rights research.

Info-Activism How-To Guide

Case studies and practical guidance on creating digital advocacy campaigns.

Decoding Data

Guide to practical and ethical considerations for finding, collecting, analyzing, and verifying data.

Statistical terms used in research studies: A primer for media

Brief introduction to frequently used statistical terms and concepts.

Interpreting Correlations

An interactive visualization to help understand correlation coefficients.


Guidelines for human rights documentation and data standards.

What to consider when creating pie charts

Illustrated tips for improving and clarifying pie charts and area charts.

Human Rights & Data

Human rights considerations in a data saturated world

Short essay questioning the trade-off of threat (like safety and security) with values (like privacy).

Primer on Data, Human Rights & Human Security

PDF article attempts to ask, address and predict the complex intersections between human rights, security and data.

Selection bias and the statistical patterns of mortality in conflict

Academic PDF article on statistical patterns in data specific to killings in Syria and body count in Iraq.

Searching for Trends: Analyzing Patterns in Conflict Violence Data

Blog post on data quality, particularly regarding military or political violence. Includes several links to additional sources on this topic.

The Quartz guide to bad data

An exhaustive reference to problems seen in real-world data along with suggestions on how to resolve them.


Hans Rosling: The best stats you've ever seen

20-minute TED talk showing trends in human development through data visualization.

Whiteboards, stickies, markers and collaborative visualization for systems analysis

9-minute TED talk on the use of visualization as a technique of collaboration and strategic planning.

Defending Dignity: Communicating Findings

9-minute video about visualizing data for advocacy from the Center for Economic and Social Rights.

The Value of Visualization

Short video on the significance of visualizing data and information.

Data Viz: You're Doin' it Wrong

5-minute Ignite talk highlighting incorrectly done data visualizations, and a few well-done ones.

Journalism in the Age of Data

Data visualization as a storytelling medium in journalism. 54-minutes.

Video Tutorials

Demonstration of how Alberto Cairo designed several graphs and maps showcased in his book The Truthful Art.

Tapestry Conference

Videos of presentations at this conference on data visualization and storytelling.


Data Stories

Interviews with data visualization practitioners and researchers

The PolicyViz Podcast

Interviews about data visualization, presentation skills, and presentation design

Data Skeptic

Conversations on topics in data science between a data scientists and his non-data scientist wife, and longer interviews featuring practitioners and experts on interesting topics related to data


Slide:ology: The art and science of creating great presentations

Free PDF and PowerPoint samples from a book on how to create great presentations. Includes case studies.

Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences

Online book on creating meaningful content to move audiences. Includes real world examples.

35 Books on Data Visualization

Annotated list of useful data visualization books.

Moritz Stefaner Data Vis Favs

List of favorite data visualization books on Goodreads.

Academic Papers

Collected & summarized research on the effectiveness of visualization techniques

GitHub compilation for data visualization techniques.

Bridging Theory with Practice: An Exploratory Study of Visualization Use and Design for Climate Model Comparison

The results of an exploratory study of climate data visualizations conducted in tight collaboration with a pool of climate scientists.

Visualization Rhetoric

Exploratory study of data visualizations as narrative and end-user interpretation.

How Deceptive Are Deceptive Visualizations?

Presents distorting visualization techniques and measures the deceptiveness of the techniques.

The Persuasive Power of Data Visualization

Evidence-based, experimental research on visualization persuasion.

What Makes a Visualization Memorable?

Explores relationship between visualization, understanding and memorability.

Narrative Visualization: Telling Stories with Data

Explores narrative visualization and how it differs from traditional forms of storytelling. Includes case studies.

Towards a Smooth Design Process for Static Communicative Node-Link Diagrams

Breaks down the process of creating information visualizations, introduces a graphical user interface, GraphCoiffure to improve workflow.

Storytelling in Information Visualizations: Does it Engage Users to Explore Data?

Reports findings from web-based experiments on audience interaction with interactive data visualizations.

Visualization tools for open government data

A paper arguing for wider use of visualization tools to open government data achieve its full potential for impact.

The Use of Data Visualization in Government

A report aimed at helping public sector managers make the most of data visualization tools and practices.

Graphical Statistical Methods for the Representation of the Human Development Index and Its Components

An argument for visualizing complex data to aid in human development initiatives.


Visualization Tools

Visualization Tools for Investigators

Browser-based data visualization platform designed to assist investigative journalists, activists and others in mapping complex business or crime networks.

Tableau Training & Tutorials

Tutorials on how to create and share data visuals using the paid, online tool Tableau.

Introduction to Google Fusion Tables

Experimental data visualization web application to gather, visualize, and share data tables.


Free software for interactive network and social graph visualization and analysis.


Create charts and maps in just four steps.

Quick and easy responsive infographics includes design templates, 30+ chart types, and embed/share options.


Quick and easy infographics includes 400+ templates, unlimited customization, and share and print options.


Open-source tool that enables you to build visually-rich interactive timelines.


Mind mapping, network visualization software.


Open source software for data mining and visual programming for novices and experts.


Quickly build/explore visualizations from your Excel files.


Explore different visualization techniques in the browser using spreadsheet data.


Browser based tool to create and publish data driven websites


Free desktop tool for visual exploration of complex datasets to discover correlation patterns.

Responsive Table Generator

Simple web-based app creates a web-ready, embeddable, responsive version of a Google Spreadsheet.

Chart Chooser

A selection of visualization techniques sorted by task. See also Slide Chooser for visual story telling in presentations.

The Noun Project

Database of free and Creative Commons licensed icons, searchable by topic.


An open source web app for creating annotated charts


A lightweight javascript library for generating simple, responsive charts.

A curated list of tools, resources and technologies for data visualization.


Easy, drag-and-drop infographic maker.

Mapping Tools


Map and analyze location data. Multiple product levels.


Tool for developers to build maps for online and mobile apps.


Powerful open source desktop GIS tool with an extensive suite of plugins.

Field Papers

Integrate offline and online mapping. Very useful in areas with limited Internet connectivity.


Perform advanced spatial statistics.


Web-based tool to create timelines with geographic data.


Hosted toolkit display annotated maps in a narrative sequence.

Publishing web maps with leaflet and QGIS

Export web-ready maps from QGIS to Leaflet, an open-source Javascript library.

Google Spreadsheet Mapper

Enter data into a Google Spreadsheet to plot points on Google Maps or Google Earth.

Color Tools


Ready-made color schemes for maps.


Web-based color palette picker.

i want hue

Color picker for data scientists to generate and refine palettes of optimally distinct colors.

Color Picker for Data

Interactive tool to choose six sequential colors.


Generate a color palette with strong perceptual differences to use with different categories of data.

Open Color

A a color scheme for UI design of 12 color-blind safe colors.

Color Oracle

A free color blindness simulator for Window, Mac and Linux.


A set of custom color palettes built on top of well-known standards for color use on maps.

Data Color Picker

A palette generator that picks hues between color endpoints.

Color Scale Generator

Create and preview color scales.



Data Tools


Tool for working with 'messy' data to clean, transform, share it.

Document Cloud

Turn PDF and other scanned documents into data for analysis, annotation, and publishing online.


Paid service to collect, analyse, visualise and manage data.

Tool for collaborative network analysis.

Scrape data from the internet.


Create reliable, free field surveys.


Software to securely catalog and encrypt sensitive data on off-site servers.


Chrome extension to get data out of web pages and into spreadsheets.

Trifacta Wrangler

Data wrangling on the desktop for free.

Free and Open-Source Tools for Investigative journalism

Compilation of tutorials, tips, tools and resources for journalists.


A suite of easy-to-use web tools for beginners that introduce concepts of working with data.


Help automate the process of checking a dataset for errors or potential mistakes.

Articles & Essays

Connecting with the Dots

On data visualization, empathy, and representing people with dots.

A Brief Introduction to Critical Cartography

How maps reflect and perpetuate relations of power.

Some Approaches to Critical Cartography

Further notes and links from an introductory lecture.

The prison in the city: Tracking the neoliberal life of the “million dollar block”

What came after the success of this visualization for advocacy project, despite its reformist intentions.

And What Do I Do Now? Using Data Visualization for Social Change

Beyond visualization, if your goal is social change we must aim to change behavior.

Beautiful Reasons

On the use of aesthetics within data narratives.

Ten Challenges to the Use of Data Visualization in Human Rights

The results of a needs assessment among human rights researchers and advocates.

Scrollytelling in Data Visualizations

Examples of different types of online storytelling using scrolling.

Visualization Galleries


Comprehensive library of data visualization techniques organized by functional purpose.

The Data Visualisation Catalogue

Reference for different types of visualizations.

Visual Survey of Text Visualization Techniques

Searchable database showcasing different visualization examples.

D3.js gallery

Over 2,400 examples of charts and visualization techniques using D3.js, sorted by type.

Graphics Collection

Sort news visualizations by type.

Data Visualization Tools & Books

Sort by task, cost, platform and data type.

NAPA Cards

Narrative patterns for data-driven storytelling.

Online Courses

Visualization Tutorials & Courses


Project-based tutorials with step-by-step instructions and examples for learning the R programming language from basic to advanced, across different topics including statistics, data manipulation and visualization.

Data for Change: Data Visualisation for Human Rights

Introductory audio+video course from designer Stefanie Posavec.

Design for Change: Graphic Design for Human Rights

90 minute audio and video course on visual design basics.

Coursera Data Visualization

4-week online course from the University of Illinois

MIT OpenCourseWare: How to Process, Analyze and Visualize Data

6-day introductory course with daily lab exercises.

Indiana University Information Visualization MOOC

Three-credit course about the state of the art in information visualization.

Udacity Data Visualisation and D3.js

Independent 7-week online course with a focus on visually encoding and presenting data to audiences.

Scott Murray, D3 Tutorials

A guide to working with D3 in multiple languages available. Also available in print from O'Reilly.

Soc 880: Data Visualization

Syllabus, notes, exercises, and resources from Kieran Healy’s half-semester introduction to visualizing data.

A Hands-On Guide to Color Correction

How to adjust raw satellite image data to look more like a realistic picture.

Information Visualization Course Materials

Lecture slides and exercises used by Enrico Bertini in his Information Visualization course at NYU Tandon.

Data Visualization for Social Science

A practical introduction with R and ggplot2

Mapping, Charting, and Data Visualization for the Newsroom

A collection of free, video courses on data journalism and visualization.

Data Journalism Tutorials & Courses

Data Gathering for Beginners

This course is a gentle introduction to data basics where you can find data and what to do with it.

Cleaning and Analysing Data

For journalists and activists, a practical introduction to the skills needed to analyse data using spreadsheets, allowing you to start looking for stories in data.

School of Data

Independent courses on fundamentals including: data cleaning, exploring and extracting data, mapping and more.

Data Driven Journalism Course

Introductory 5-module course on working with and producing compelling data stories.

The Data Journalism Handbook

Open-sourced, in-progress handbook with real world examples and case studies.

Data Journalism and Computer-Assisted Reporting Syllabuses

Big list of syllabi, including some data visualization and storytelling courses.