Infographics and data visualization

Using graphics and text to present data and information in not a new idea. Infographics, or ‘information graphics’, have been appearing in print, advertising, on tv news shows and more, for a very long time. But it’s only recently that easy to use (and free/cheap) tools for creating them have become available.

Pictures really can be worth a thousand words. Images grab our attention, and carefully created representations of data and other information can help us quickly grasp what is being presented and communicate a message more effectively.

Infographics are visual representations of information, data, or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. They use pictures, words, graphs, and other visual elements to express information. Ideally, infographics are designed so that these visual elements organize complex ideas and data into a more easily understood form in a way that enhances viewers’ comprehension. Images are often an extension of the content of a written article, but infographics convey a self-contained message or principle.

An effective infographic provides information on a certain topic in a creative way and provides a conclusion.

Data Visualization & Infographics?

Is there a difference? A data visualization is really just a special type of infographic. An infographic may not include any actual data, while a data visualization must. Charts and graphs that clearly present real data are data visualizations.  An infographic may present ideas, trends, information, but no real data.
The beauty of data visualization: TED Talk by David McCandless


Infographics can be used in so many different ways: for advocacy, creating persuasive arguments, as teaching tools, as learning assessments, for presentation slides, in research presentations and more.

Data visualizations are used to make sense of highly complex data or to change a massive data set into a more accessible form.

Data visualizations can be very space efficient by visualizing a large set of numbers in a small space. By designing a visualization that displays all of the data within the readers’ field of view, this enables us to see the entire data set with minimal eye movement without scrolling or flipping between pages.

Today, the use of the word infographics has evolved to include a new definition that means a larger graphic design that combines data visualizations, illustrations, text, and images together into a format that tells a complete story. In this use of the word, data visualizations by themselves are no longer considered to be complete infographics but are a powerful tool that designers often use to help tell their story visually in an infographic.

Krum, Randy. Cool Infographics : Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design, John Wiley & Sons

Main points of an infographic

Crane, Beverley E.. Infographics : A Practical Guide for Librarians, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2015
  • Provides visual presentations of information including statistics about a certain topic using graphics and text
  • Uses elements of design to display content Is constructed in a creative way to let people easily understand the message or the story being delivered
  • Conveys a self-contained message or principle with a conclusion that may be an extension of the content of a written article
  • Expresses a complex message in a manner that enhances viewers’ comprehension Is indexed by search engines on websites to gather inbound links
  • Presents the right message through detailed research and editing, thus encouraging more people to share on social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook
  • Helps the reader’s spatial-temporal reasoning, which makes learning easier


Creating an infographic pulls together many skills:

  • Defining an issue & deciding what questions to ask.
  • Finding reliable information and data.
  • Analyzing data to test arguments.
  • Creating a story line for presenting the information.
  • Considering the audience and what they need/want to know.
  • Making choices about colors, design, and layout.

The Anatomy Of An Infographic: 5 Steps To Create A Powerful Visual is a great introduction to the process of creating a good infographic.

Try this

Analyzing Infographics


Explore further

  • Adobe Spark – Create impactful social graphics as well as web stories and animated videos with Spark’s free graphic design app
  • Easelly – One of AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning in 2013
  • Piktochart – Free and Pro accounts.
  • – Upload data, create graphs, charts and more. Free and pro accounts.
  • Viz – Handy, easy to use iOS app for creating colorful, simple graph charts.
  • Create A Graph – Tools to help students (and adults!) understand & create basic types of charts and graphs.
  • Visme – translate data into beautiful visuals right in your browser with html5 content. Used by educators who want to access, share and publish anywhere. Includes free fonts and images and supports animation and transitions.
  • – Highly specific tool, creates an attractive “resume” (of sorts) from your LinkedIn account.
  • Canva – In addition to creating posters, banners, resumes, etc, you can create infographics too. (Canva Tips)
  • Venngage – Free and paid accounts. Templates for a variety of purposes.
  • PowerPoint, Keynote – An overlooked tool. Lots of options within these common programs. Save a slide as a jpg image file.
  • Juice Labs Chart Chooser – Helps you select the type of chart you should use for various purposes.
  • Over 100 Incredible Infographic Tools and Resources (Categorized)

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2016). Getting graphic about infographics: design lessons learned from popular infographics. Journal of Visual Literacy, 35(1), 42-59.

Ozdamlı, F., Kocakoyun, S., Sahin, T., & Akdag, S. (2016). Statistical Reasoning of Impact of Infographics on Education. Procedia Computer Science, 102, 370-377.

Saunders, D. H., Horrell, A., & Murray, A. (2017). Infographics for student assessment: more than meets the eye.

Yildirim, S. (2016). Infographics for Educational Purposes: Their Structure, Properties and Reader Approaches. TOJET: The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 15(3).


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