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As Edward Tufte states, small multiples refer to the principle of using fractions of information representing aspects of a single phenomenon to illustrate differences or changes in it.
They typically appear as sets of thumbnail sized graphics — using the same measures and scale — on a single page. They:
- Depict comparison, enhance dimensionality, motion, and are good for multivariate displays
- Invite comparison, contrasts, and show the scope of alternatives or range of options
- Can represent motion through ghosting of multiple images
- Are particularly useful in computers because they often permit the actual overlay of images, and rapid cycling.
- [Gales, 1999]: Larry Gales, Graphics and Web Design Based on Edward Tufte's Principles, 1999.