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What are Infographics?

The term infographic is an abbreviation of information graphic. Infographics are visual representations of data and other forms of information. They combine text, images, illustrations, and data visualizations like charts and graphs to communicate ideas in a way that is quick and easy to understand. They typically aim to inform the reader about a topic or persuade people about a particular claim or argument. 

Infographics have several benefits:

  • Appeal: the visual aspects of infographics attract people's attention and keep them engaged in the material
  • Comprehension: graphics and other visual design elements help our brains detect patterns and understand complex relationships
  • Retention: people remember information in a visual format better than through text alone

So why should you create an infographic? They take dense textual information and convert it into an easy to read, highly visual piece of content that is easy to read, understand, and remember. Plus, they're highly shareable, versatile, and easy to create using online tools.

Planning and Designing an Infographic

The Infographic Design Workflow

The following five steps can guide the planning and development of data or information visualizations, including infographics: 

An image showing the five steps in the infographic design workflow

  1. Identify the purpose of the infographic and its intended audience
  2. Select, prepare, and explore relevant data
  3. Select the broad form of the visualization based on audience, purpose, and data
  4. Select the visual elements within the infographic, including the data and variables to display, what text to include, the layout, etc.
  5. Share and Receive Feedback

Step 1: Identify Audience and Purpose

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is the audience for your infographic, and what is their level of familiarity with the topic? What would they be interested in it?
  • What is the purpose of your infographic? Are you trying to communicate a finding, or is it intended for exploration and analysis?
  • What is the main idea of your infographic? Are there specific messages, ideas, or facts you'd like to highlight, or questions you'd like to address? 
  • Where will your infographic be used, and how will it add value? 

Examples of infographic purposes: explain a process, share a compelling story, raise awareness of an issue, present trends or patterns

Step 2: Select, Prepare, and Explore Data

Think about data points that would help readers understand your message.

  • Do you have data available to support the main ideas of your infographic?
  • Does the data lend itself to visual display?

You may need to gather data from multiple sources. You may also need to clean or normalize your data; for more details on this process, see the data visualization guide.

Step 3: Select the Structure and Form of Your Infographic

First, plan how your will structure your infographic. Remember that it should tell a story: first, you introduce the topic, and then you explain it bit by bit. Pay particular attention to the relationship between elements in your infographic.

Laying out the main elements or information in a grid or rough drawing (e.g. as a storyboard or wireframe) can help with this process.

When designing a grid or wireframe, consider the following:

  • Make room for your title and introduction
  • Outline sections and organize them in a logical flow
  • Make space for images or illustrations
  • Note which facts are going where and show how they flow into one another
  • Collect and include rough renderings of data visualizations (e.g. charts or graphs)

Next, make sure that you're choosing an appropriate chart, graphic, map, or diagram for your visualizations. This data visualization guide includes resources to pick the right visualization form. This webpage explains how to choose the right chart type for an infographic.

Step 4: Select Visual Elements

To catch the reader's attention, take advantage of preattentive attributes, characteristics that our eyes perceive and process quickly without conscious attention. Use elements of form (like length, width, size, shape), color, and position to emphasize points or draw the eye through the infographic. To highlight important elements, make sure there is as much contrast as possible.

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Ensure there is adequate white space in your infographic so it's not overwhelming
  • Chunk your information into prominent sections to minimize cognitive load
  • Consider the direction a person's eyes will take so that you can guide them from one section of the infographic to the next
  • Demand extra attention by pairing icons with text
  • Make a numerical statistic stand out with large, bold, colorful font
  • Make sure typefaces complement each other well
  • Keep your color palette small (2-3 colors)
  • Consider the accessibility of your infographic (e.g. ensure there is adequate color contrast)

Need more ideas? See the data visualization guide for information on design principles.

Step 5: Share and Receive Feedback

Creating a visualization is a step-by-step process. Remember to ask others to review your work and provide feedback to improve it. 

Just like when you're writing a research paper, remember to cite your sources. This includes scholarly resources that you gathered information from, as well as data sources. 

Infographics Tools

Additional Infographic Resources