NEW BOOK! Communicating Knowledge Visually

After many years in the making and a few roadblocks, I’m delighted to share that the book I co-wrote with R. Roger Remington is finally in press, and it will be available for pre-order in September. Communicating Knowledge Visually: Will Burtin’s Scientific Approach to Information Design presents a timely, in-depth examination of Will Burtin’s work and process. Using an information design lens, we analyze nine of Burtin’s seminal projects, including more than 100 images. We created process boxes to provide a closer look at Burtin’s approach, helping the reader gain a better understanding of the tasks and activities involved in information design work. Throughout the book, excerpts taken from Burtin’s unpublished writing offer insight into his process as information design pioneer, and explain how he transformed complex scientific information into easy, accessible 2D visual forms and 3D models and interactive experiences.

The book provides the information design community and others with a practical tool kit–including a framework, principles, and strategies–to better understand and improve the field, and to help professionals from other disciplines learn the full value of information design. We also share recommendations for improving information design education and adapting current programs to the needs of the XXI century.

Looking at the past is essential to understand the present. With this book, scientists, designers, engineers, educators and students will gain valuable knowledge from Burtin’s unique design approach as they meet the current challenges of communicating complexity in their respective fields.

Key contents

Foreword by Steven Heller

Included Projects:

  • Metabolism, the Cycle of Life Exhibition
  • The Brain Exhibition
  • Gunner’s Information File Project
  • The Cell Exhibition
  • Fortune and SCOPE Magazines
  • Visual Aspects of Science Exhibition
  • The Communication of Knowledge Exhibition
  • The Story of Mathematics for Young People book

Pre-order available from RIT Press: $49.99 (regular price $60)


Will Burtin broke through many communication barriers which had limited traditional communication forms. R. Roger Remington and Sheila Pontis’ new book Will Burtin’s Scientific Approach to Information Design is a brilliant choice to bring this history into relevance today. It is cleverly supported by unique archival materials which have never been seen before by the public.  

Richard Saul Wurman, Information Architect

 Will Burtin’s modernist aesthetics and human-centered approach contributed immensely to the history of modern design. Driven by a passion to clarify complex issues, he established a workflow that included scientific research and user interviews as part of his regular practice. This book is a beautiful walk through Burtin’s most impressive exhibition and editorial projects, and demonstrates how design and accessibility are insolubly intertwined in information design and its related fields. 

Sandra Rendgen, Visualization Strategist 

Sheila Pontis and Roger Remington provide a clear and engaging account of designer Will Burtin’s guiding philosophy and the context that shaped it. In the course of describing Burtin’s scientific approach to design–and using it more broadly as a framework for examining the practice and teaching of information design today–the authors prompted me to think more critically about my own science visualization influences and methodology. There’s lots of food for thought here for science centric graphics fans, students, practitioners, and educators alike. 

Jen Christiansen, Art Director, Scientific American

The book is an excellent addition to design studies, Will Burtin’s work and ways of working are not very well known. The value of the book is not in the biography, but on the analyses of Burtin’s projects and of his ways of working. Working for large corporations at a time in which the USA was economically rising, he worked on projects of very diverse and complex kind: from mega promotions of corporations to scientific and technical information dissemination. The book will surely appeal to both educators and practicing information designers. It addresses very contemporary issues in design practice and studies, such as a holistic view of the discipline, the notion of human-centered design, and the nature of information design as a research-based practice. 

Jorge Frascara, Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: