A picture paints a thousand words

While it is indeed true that a picture paints a thousand words, can all information be represented graphically?

What are infographics?

Information graphics (or infographics) portray visually the important information and are supposed to be aesthetically pleasing. A good infographic is able to communicate facts and complex relationships. I also think that an infographic should encourage people to read the accompanying text, which is why I liked this infographic from the White House (although the author of the blog disagrees, saying there’s “way too much text”).

Our latest project involving infographics

I think that much depends on your readers and the focus of the publication, as well as the budget.

For instance, I recently completed a publication entitled Secondary Cities: the start of a conversation for SA Cities Network. The brief was to produce an easy-to-read, visually pleasing publication suitable for a number of audiences: the general public, national policy-makers, municipalities, academics and NGOs. The base document was a lengthy research paper that (in my view) would only interest academics.

I think the final product works well. Not all the information is displayed as infographics — the city comparisons (pages 35—40) are just prettified tables. The real challenge was fitting so much city data onto one page, but we managed it (thanks in no small part to the designer we worked with). In the end, each profile tells a story of the city’s evolution over the past 10 years.


What do you think?

PS For me, when I hear the phrase “A picture paints a thousand words”, I think of that song by Bread, If. (Enjoy!)

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