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What are Infographics?

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.

Infographics are a hot trend in the content marketing arena. But exactly what is an infographic? An infographic is a graphical presentation of facts, figures or other information to showcase or simplify key points.

Infographics can be used to:

  • Distill key points from research data, blog posts or larger documents.
  • Showcase important or surprising information.
  • Explain relationships between people or things that may be difficult to understand.
  • Provide instructions quickly and simply.
  • Explain processes (similar to a computer programming flowchart).
  • Show timelines.
  • Persuade an audience by highlighting talking points for a given position.
  • Quotable quotes (that you've said yourself OR quotes of others that you have obtained written permission to use).
  • Curating information from several sources.
Infographic example.

Infographic example.

What Goes Into an Infographic?

Unlike standard graphs and charts from research or data collection, infographics typically do not show an entire graph or chart. Rather, they extract and highlight one or more key findings. This is done so that viewers do not become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of data. As well, many viewers may not be able to properly interpret a standard graph or chart and may come up with a wrong or irrelevant conclusion.

For example, a data chart may show the household incomes for a studied population. The chart of raw data may not properly describe how those income values relate to standards of living or how they compare with similar populations. An infographic could showcase a key income statistic and explain how it relates to specific economic benchmarks.

For audiences who are oriented to communicate visually and quickly (such as those who communicate with emojis), infographics help them absorb key information faster. As well, infographics are popular for sharing on social media because they are quickly and easily digestible.

A small infographic example.

A small infographic example.

Tips for Information Gathering and Selection for Infographics

What's Your Story? The key to creating a successful infographic is selecting the data that should be included to tell the story you want to tell.

Don't overwhelm your readers! Only include the amount of information that is needed to make the points you need to make. For those viewers who want to dig into the data, you may want to consider providing a link to more in-depth or explanatory documents that are suitable and available for public viewing.

What not to include. It should go without saying, but NEVER, EVER include confidential, proprietary or personally identifiable information.

Cite your sources. If you're curating information from a variety of sources, make sure that you: 1) Have permission to include that information; and, 2) Cite your sources somewhere in the infographic. Not only will this help give your infographic authority, it will also help promote the work of your sources.

The key to creating a successful infographic is selecting the data that should be included to tell the story you want to tell.

— Heidi Thorne

How to Create an Infographic

There are several ways to create infographics. Most methods utilize a software program to help the user place data and other graphic elements. Popular software programs and online services to create infographics include:

  • Free or paid online graphic or infographic design software (e.g., Canva, Piktochart and Visme)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Adobe Illustrator or InDesign
  • Corel Draw

Many of the online infographic design software programs have templates to make creating them as easy as entering and formatting text and dragging-and-dropping graphical elements in place. These templates can help create a professional looking graphic, even if you're not a designer. Bonus feature for many online services is that they may have built-in tools for social media sharing.

Because infographics may be viewed on a mobile device, selecting a software program or service that will create a mobile responsive design can improve your viewers' user experience.

Example of a quote infographic.

Example of a quote infographic.

How to Use an Infographic

Like blog posts, infographics can be a cornerstone of your content or inbound marketing program. As well, they can be helpful in sales or educational presentations. Here are some of the key ways they can be used:

Share on Social Media. Infographics are highly shareable, especially if the information is relevant for your followers! Social channels with visual orientation or capability (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) can be ideal venues for posting and sharing.

Include in Your Marketing Materials or Media Kit. Your infographics may help you secure media interest if it gets a lot of social media sharing and buzz. The media may be interested in republishing your infographics (only with your permission of course!). So consider including them in your digital media kit.

Highlight Quotes from Self Published Books. Authors can promote their self published books by using infographics highlighting quotes from their books. Consider including a link to where the book can be purchased.

Use in Presentations. Infographics can easily show key points in your presentation. Only caution is to use those that don't require scrolling... or squinting. Long infographics scrunched into one slide will be impossible for an audience to read at a distance. Consider splitting up one long infographic into several smaller highlights, with maybe a single highlight per slide.

Put It On Your Website. If you create your infographic with a program such as Microsoft PowerPoint, you would create a JPEG (.jpg) or other graphic file and upload it to your website as an image. Make sure your image alt text attributes describe the information you're presenting to help your SEO. Some online infographic design services offer embedding capability. In that case, the graphic is still hosted by the design software service and you simply copy and paste some HTML code on to your site. These embedded graphics may also offer your website visitors easy social media sharing capability.

Sharing via Embedding. Some infographic design services may give you the capability to allow your website visitors to embed your graphic on their own sites. It will be a piece of HTML code that they can copy and paste onto their sites. That code will feed your infographic to their sites. It can be a good way to gain greater exposure for your website and work. However, carefully assess whether you want to offer this embedding capability to everyone or to only select sites.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2017 Heidi Thorne


Md Fuad Islam from Bangladesh on November 25, 2019:

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Cool! Thanks for Sharing.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on January 20, 2019:

Hi, Cecil! Infographics are very cool and useful. Thanks for chiming in and have a great day!

Cecil Kenmill from Osaka, Japan on January 19, 2019:

Very cool! Thanks for sharing. I love infographics!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 20, 2017:

Hi Flourish! In the past when I self-hosted my blog, I had a couple of inquiries very similar to the one you describe and also from non-US companies. They had an infographic that they wanted me to post, along with their text. Nope, not for me!

However, what I've seen some infographic producers do is offer their website visitors the opportunity to embed the code for the infographic wherever they want. That's the way to go. If a visitor finds it valuable enough, they might certainly want to include that infographic content on their own sites. It becomes an invitation, not a beg.

Thanks so much for the kind words! Appreciate your support. Have a lovely day!

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 19, 2017:

I did a health article in the past few months and was contacted by someone associated with a British consumer products company who wanted me to "look at" his infographic. It was very well done but there were those irky differences between UK/Australian and American English. He was suggesting that I write a related health article on specific topic, and I knew he probably wanted me to include his infographic. (I wasn't going to do that.) As it turned out, that's precisely what he wanted, but he was also seeking to write a brief introduction. Other than the link backs that that he was probably searching for, why was he doing this? Would you ever recommend pursuing this type of strategy (from either side)? As a writer, I'd rather have complete control of my own content, so I encouraged him to open his own HubPages account. The company already has a blog that this fella writes on.

On a separate note, I notice that so many of your articles are on niche sites. That speaks well of your authority. You're a first class act, Dr. Heidi Thorne.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on May 29, 2017:

Hi poetryman! Thanks for the kind words. Infographics are cool. :) Have a great day!

poetryman6969 on May 29, 2017:

cool information. Thanks.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on January 11, 2017:

AliciaC, infographics are definitely hot right now. I can see why. Actually, I like this content marketing trend better than video or audio since these graphics are so much faster to digest. Definitely give them a try. With some of the informative content you post, they might be a good fit. Good news is that some of the software options online are free. Can't wait to see what you come up with. Thanks for stopping by. Happy New Year!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on January 11, 2017:

MsDora, yes, it does take some practice to get the hang of using infographics and the software for them. It took me several tries for the ones you see in the hub! Thanks so much for your kind comments. Happy New Year!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 10, 2017:

Thanks for sharing some great advice, Heidi. Infographics certainly seem to be popular. They are something that I need to think about.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 10, 2017:

Very helpful and useful. Your illustrations are easy to understand. Now for some practice. Thank you, Heidi.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on January 09, 2017:

Flourish, using an infographic for education recruitment would be a great idea! Let me know if they do one and how it works out. As always, thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful week ahead!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on January 09, 2017:

Billybuc, honored to be stored in "the warehouse." Thanks for your support and hope you have a great week ahead!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 09, 2017:

Great tips, Heidi! I gather information...I use some of that...I store some of it...and it all helps me to grow, as a writer and a marketing exec. Thanks for always adding to my warehouse.

Happy Monday!

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 08, 2017:

You've given me an idea with this article! My daughter attends a high school Governor's Academy for Engineering Studies and it would be a terrific way for them to beef up their recruiting by highlighting some of the key benefits of the program this way. Very succinct, visual and shareable. Thank you for the tips!

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