Infographics

Kasia Piekut has written an article on Mark Making about infographics and some of the most important things to remember. It’s accompanied by a cute infographic about infographics themselves.

The potential to make high quality infographics is huge these days, as we have some very clever designers with very good software. But it’s important to remember that infographics aren’t just about pretty design but effectively communicating information in an accessible and entertaining manner.

There are some pretty terrible infographics out there, where colour is used to pretty the graphs up without actually conveying information. I try to tell my coworkers to avoid the uninformative use of colour because people will look at a multicoloured graph and ask “What does this change of colour mean?” Often a table or simple plot will do in place of an infographic. As researchers we must resist the temptation to make our graphs so punchy and full of colour that we obscure the meaning of the data. Infographics are a tool for conveying information; we should be careful that we don’t end up with pictures for the sake of pictures. We should also be careful that we don’t end up with graphics that obscure the data and its implications.

Edit: I don’t know that this is worthy of its own post so I’ll add it here. Andrew Gelman has blogged at The Monkey Cage about choosing plot styles and how different representations of the same data can be used to give the punchy dramatic message and then give that message a bit more context.

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