Back in September, I attended a workshop by Edward Tufte entitled, Presenting Data and Information. Professor Tuftes contributions to the field of information design are well known within the design community and his workshop covered material from all four of his books.
Aside from Tuftes purple hatred of PowerPoint, the most intriguing component of the workshop was his lecture on sparklines. These thumbnail-sized graphs are simple in form but contain an enormous amount of data. Using sparklines, a wide range of data points can be scanned and digested quickly; and they are much more efficient in their use of page real estate than tables of numbers.
An excerpt from Professor Tuftes chapter on sparklines in his most recent book, Beautiful Evidence is available on his website. Dont be indimidated by the length of the web page, only 15% of it is content from the book, the remainder is posted comments and sparkline examples.