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This taxonomy is to aid retrieval of works either within or about the field of information of Information Visualization (InfoVis) by providing controlled vocabulary of terms for the description of works.

It is a response to the lack of support for the field from existing instruments (CCS[1] and LCSH) for retrieval.

Purposes of InfoVis taxonomy[edit]

Since InfoVis is a relatively new research area, taxonomies have been developed for aspects of the field including visualizations and software design patterns, no taxonomy for the field itself has been developed. We need to develop one for various reasons:

  • Users can find appropriate InfoVis technologies among the taxonomy
  • Developers and designers can find possible design choices
  • Researchers can have an overview of the field to identify boundaries, gaps, hotspots, and future research directions

Preferred characteristics of a taxonomy[edit]

Guzman and Verstappen (2003)[2] listed the following characteristics of well established index terms, which can be applicable to establish a taxonomy:

  • Exhaustivity: all the themes, objects and concepts dealt with by the document are to be found in the index.
  • Selectivity: only information of interest to users has been selected.
  • Specificity: the description represents the contents of the document as accurately as possible and avoids over-general or over-precise descriptors where specific or less precise terms would be more appropriate.
  • Consistency: another indexer or a user would normally describe the same document, or documents on the same subject, in the same way.


The following list shows the currently available taxonomy:

  1. Draft taxonomy
  2. Taxonomy Draft 2


It's worth noting that headings in a taxonomy are never perfect; they are intended as aids for retrieval, and will be shaped over time as a field grows and changes.

  1. headings should be distinct - documents may come under more than one heading - and maybe even require a new sub heading.
  2. the organisation and order of headings is arbitrary and often flawed, but remember these are just aids for retrieval, they don't define the field. Try to think like an undergraduate (who knows nothing about InfoVis) when making changes.
  3. ideally this will be a tool used by catalogers(librarians) and publishers to help readers find works in InfoVis. They may only have a passing knowledge of the field.


Often, some literature about taxonomy simply suggests framework (e.g., Data State Model). These frameworks cannot meet the whole purpose of the taxonomy. Thus, these framework should be distinguished and listed separately as follows:


  1. H.5.2 User Interfaces in H.5 INFORMATION INTERFACES AND PRESENTATION (e.g., HCI) (I.7) section of ACM Computing Classification System (1998)
  2. Guzman, M., & Verstappen, B. (2003). How to develop a list of index terms or thesaurus. Retrieved March 25, 2006, from