A lot of work has been done in visual working memory and spatial memory but I am looking for resources that show displaying information in the form of a list is better than a graph.

Shneiderman has researched extensively in this area but I can't find anything that suggests lists of data are better than more complex structures.

Does anyone know of any guidelines or studies that suggest presenting/navigating/perceiving information in the form of lists is better than graphs?

  • There is no way to answer this question without more details because 'list' and 'graph' are not specific enough. There are many kinds of lists and many more kinds of graphs. Additionally, more information about the data and the user's goals would be helpful. In the absence of more details, I'd recommend starting with Cleveland's research rather than Shneiderman's. Apr 2, 2013 at 13:48

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Working memory just holds a couple chunks of data, varying from individual to individual. Similarly, both temporary and long term spatial memory are varied in people and can be improved by training (the famous NYC taxi driver experiment).

Shneiderman won't say something like this since, he very well knows that there is no 'rule' for which visualization is better than another. It is always contextual and conditional, depending on the usage of the visualization and the type/size of data you are dealing with.

Now, if you give a specific example of dataset then we can decide on which visualization will be best suited (not the only fit, but the best fit) depending on the use case.

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