If you’ve flipped through a magazine or browsed social media platforms lately, chances are you’ve stumbled upon a slick-looking infographic.
Whether you’ve seen interactive infographics or static infographics, you probably marveled at this unique graphic design medium and maybe even considered how to make one yourself.
What Is an Infographic and How Do I Make One?
While they come in various shapes and sizes, the best infographics out there have one thing in common: they combine visuals and text to communicate an idea, insight, or information.
From healthcare to finance, creating infographics makes for a popular visual storytelling medium across industries and platforms.
Educators and students also favor data visualization through infographics because of their versatility inside the classroom.
This article is packed with everything you need to know about infographic creation — from understanding what makes a good infographic to examples of different infographic types for instant inspiration.
You’ll also come across editable infographic templates that you can customize and download for work, school, or business.
If you are more of a visual learner than a reader, check out the summary video of our ‘what is an infographic’ blog post:
Table of contents:
What Is an Infographic Design?
Infographics (information + graphics) use visual elements and text to highlight key information and ideas as a form of data visualization.
According to the Dictionary of Media and Communication, an infographic is a graphical representation of concepts, or of patterns in data or information.
In Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling, authors Lankow, Ritchie, and Crooks define an infographic as a medium that uses visual cues to communicate information. “It can be as simple as a road sign of a man with a shovel that lets you know there is construction ahead, or as complex as visual analysis of the global economy,” the authors wrote.
The widespread use of infographics started around the same time data flooded the web when the internet gained popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
However, the history of infographics goes as far back as cave symbols in 37000 BC.
For example, the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, combined text and visuals in 1858 to convince the British Government to improve army hygiene.
In Notes on Matters Affecting the Health of the British Army, Nightingale created a graph showing that the real enemies of the British army during the Crimean were cholera, typhus, and dysentery.
More than a century later, healthcare infographics remain a practical and valuable tool to communicate through visual representation and share medical information.
In a nutshell, the overall goal of infographic creation is to convey complex information through data visualization.
However, the purpose of designing an infographic can vary from one person to another.
Whether you’re about to make your first pitch deck template or you’re a budding instruction designer, let’s dive in at the different ways you can use infographics in the next section.
What Are Infographics Used For?
The versatility of infographics is one key reason why they are commonly used in relaying information.
You can upload a blog post with an infographic, use an infographic snippet on social media, or share it privately via email.
Best of all, the visual nature of graphics makes it a good entry point in capturing your target audience’s interest. Here are six different ways to use infographics at work, school, or business:
1. Keep your team on track by visualizing key metrics and data
Data-heavy information can be difficult to grasp for some team members at work. Create and share easy-to-understand visuals with your team through infographics.
Make those numbers and metrics stand out with the right colors, icons, and images. See Beacon Hill Staffing’s infographic on predictive hiring KPIs below.
Use the Piktochart templates below as a starting point for your data visualization needs as a team manager or leader. Create a free Piktochart account.
2. Simplify communication and clarify messages
Explaining novel concepts can be a challenge. For instance, before the COVID-19 outbreak, the idea of a pandemic was new to the public and seemed far-fetched.
The good news is that infographics can help simplify and demystify complex ideas.
For this reason, the World Health Organization (WHO) used infographics to share accurate, up-to-date information about the coronavirus pandemic.
When done correctly, infographics help you understand the main idea presented with just a quick glance.
As an example, below is a good read for anyone with zero knowledge of the Kaizen approach.
3. Get complex information across in the classroom
From understanding the impact of climate change to learning new vocabulary, enrich classroom lessons with visual aids.
In fact, a small survey of undergraduate students revealed that they prefer infographics instead of text-based materials.
Whether it’s a virtual teaching session or a face-to-face class, using infographics in the classroom offers the following benefits for students:
- Promotes critical thinking in students.
- Encourages students to take on multiple perspectives.
- Helps students improve their information-gathering chops and sharpen their research skills.
- Improves memory retention.
Meanwhile, infographic activities benefit teachers through the following:
- Save more time with lesson preparation.
- Be more versatile with their teaching methods.
Adjunct Professor of Education and school counselor Jennifer Davis Bowman recommends three strategies to make the most out of visual aids like infographics in a classroom setting:
1. Share intent.
2. Activate discussion.
3. Create visual aids as a class.
4. Spread awareness about an issue
With 65 percent of the world’s population as visual learners, visual communication tools like infographics are ideal if you want to spread awareness about an issue.
Whether you want to educate your coworkers about internet privacy or make more people aware of biodiversity loss, a relevant infographic can have a wider reach.
A well-designed infographic on your website can also help you get more backlinks and website traffic.
5. Explain procedures
Explaining a process can be time-consuming and tedious if you rely on blocks of text alone. With infographics, you can add visuals, images, and icons to make learning more memorable and fun for your audience.
The next time you’re about to make a tutorial or a quick workflow, create an infographic instead of typing away in a Google Doc.
6. Compare ideas or products
Help your audience make better decisions by using infographics that illustrate the similarities and differences between two opposing concepts. You can compare and contrast products, people, eras, ideas, pets, etc. The possibilities are endless!
A meta-analysis by the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh found that case comparison activities have better learning outcomes than traditional methods of instruction.
Whether you’re a marketer who wants to show how your product is better than the competition or an educator teaching the pros and cons of GMOs in class, a good comparison infographic will make your work easier.
What Are the Different Types of Infographics?
Now that you already know how to use infographics, let’s break down each type of infographic (more info in this article). You’ll also discover when is the best time to use each infographic type below.
1. Statistical infographics
Do you want to share the highlights of your startup’s monthly progress report? Or would you like to focus attention on specific data points in a survey?
Statistical infographics highlight data. This type of infographic features graphs, charts, and data visualization techniques to help the audience make sense of the data presented.
Use statistical infographics to:
- Share interesting facts and figures.
- Condense lengthy information.
2. Process infographics
Choose process infographics if you want to show the data visualizations for different steps in a process.
Use process infographics to:
- Explain a complex process into simple, easy-to-understand steps.
3. Informational infographics
Informational infographics highlight words and texts instead of figures and numbers. It is more generalized and can contain information about any topic. In this type of infographic, the text shines more than your visuals.
Use informational infographics to:
- Explain topics or concepts by pairing words with engaging visuals together.
4. Timeline infographics
Timeline infographics illustrate actions, events, or time-related data in chronological order. You can present information in horizontal, vertical, or winding formats for this type of information.
Use timeline infographics to:
- Visualize history or show how long something will take.
- Highlight how a place, event, or concept has changed over time.
5. List infographics
The internet loves listicles! With list infographics, your audience will love you more because the list format grabs their attention quickly and enables them to retain information quickly. Icons and images can also replace bullet points and numbers to make each item or example stand out.
Use list infographics if you want to:
- Make a basic list pop out and grab your audience’s attention.
6. Comparison infographics
A comparison infographic compares or contrasts two options, ideas, or concepts. This infographic format helps your audience see the similarities or differences between two or multiple choices. It’s also ideal for “telling the two sides of the story”.
Comparing two products to show the pros and cons of traditional vs. digital marketing, like in the example below, helps your audience make informed decisions with comparison infographics.
Use comparison infographics if you want to:
- show differences and similarities.
- highlight how one option is superior/inferior to the other.
7. Infographic resumes
Also known as a visual resume, infographic resumes are visual CVs that help job seekers stand out from the rest of the pack.
An infographic template for a resume presents your impressive skills, employment history, and educational background through eye-catching colors, graphs, icons, and illustrations. The best part about these templates is that you can highlight your work and skills minus the information overload.
Use comparison infographics if you want to:
- Grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers and get them to call you back for an interview.
What Makes a Good Infographic?
You know it’s a good graphic when a reader glances at it and can quickly understand the main idea.
Well-designed, good infographics have the following characteristics:
- Offers clarity.
- It tells a cohesive story.
- Easy to scan and read.
- Well-researched and accurate.
- Visually appealing.
You can take the following steps toward making a good graphic:
1. Choose images, icons, or illustrations that aid audience comprehension
While words and texts are important in communicating information, make your infographic stand out with the right visuals. Choosing the right visuals in your graphic can help you create accessible, coherent, and compelling content.
Don’t just add images or icons for the sake of having images in your infographic. Your visuals of choice should reinforce the accompanying texts in your infographic, like in the example below.
2. Have a clear hierarchy
Next to visuals, you need to pay attention to the visual hierarchy in your infographics.
Hierarchy is how your text and visuals are structured and prioritized in your infographic. These include headers, subheaders, paragraphs, text descriptions, visuals, and your call-to-action.
At the most basic level, a clear hierarchy in your infographic guides the viewer as they scan your infographic. It tells them which content is the most relevant and shows the relationships between pieces of content in your infographic.
An infographic without a clear visual hierarchy is filled with clutter leading to reader confusion.
3. Pick the right color combination
Make your infographics come to life by putting more thought into your colors.
The right color combination can make or break your infographic. Aside from shapes and lines, colors can set the mood of an infographic and dictate how it will impact your readers. Plus, research reveals that the human brain uses colors and shapes to “detect and discriminate” objects.
Pro tip: Use the 60-30-10 rule when planning for your infographic colors:
- A primary or “root” color will cover 60 percent of your infographic.
- A secondary color will cover 30 percent of the infographic.
- An accent color will cover the remaining 10 percent of the infographic.
Can you spot the primary, secondary, and accent colors in the infographic below?
Learn more tips in 4 Steps to Choosing Good Color Combinations for Your Infographic.
4. Group related elements and information through lines, borders, colors, and shapes
Like visual hierarchy, grouping related elements together can help you create a good infographic.
Let’s take a quick look at the Gestalt Principles, a set of principles that describe how the human brain recognizes patterns, simplifies complex images, and groups similar elements when perceiving objects.
One of these principles is the Law of Common Region. This principle describes how items within a boundary are perceived as a group and assumed to share some common characteristics or functionality.
A good infographic follows this principle by using shapes, borders, and lines to group elements together. For the infographic example below, the borders, shapes, and lines are used to group infographic elements.
5. Use graphs and charts to communicate data visualization
Another important step for creating a good infographic is to make good use of charts and graphs. Besides being easy on the eyes to read, there’s a shallow learning curve for the audience because they are quite common.
Some quick tips to remember when using graphs and charts your an infographic:
- Add short explanations or bullet points that explain your chart or graph. It also makes sense to add additional data that you cannot include in your visual.
- Avoid multiple data points that will be difficult for your audience to interpret. For example, bar charts should have as few bars as possible, and line graphs should have no more than four lines.
- As much as possible, do not use scatter plots and stacked bar charts, particularly if you have a non-scientific audience.
- Use pie charts sparingly because most people are not good at estimating volume or area. The team at Storytelling with Data recommends using a horizontal bar chart, organized from greatest to least (or vice versa) instead of a pie chart.
How Do I Create an Infographic?
You’ve made it this far and seen our top infographic examples. We’re now entering the final stretch of this article!
In this section, you’ll learn how to make an infographic even if you don’t have a design background.
1. Identify your target audience
Like all types of content, the first step in creating infographics is to identify and familiarize yourself with your target audience.
If possible, talk to at least five people who fit the criteria of your target audience persona and explore their pain points, needs, and wants. Go beyond the usual demographic questions such as age, occupation, educational background, and household income.
Robin Geuens, Piktochart’s resident SEO, also recommends understanding your target audience’s level of knowledge. By doing so, you’ll be able to skip over basic information in your infographic.
2. Define your information graphic goals
An infographic all by itself is just a piece of content. Infographic creation without a purpose is a meaningless exercise. When you have a clear infographic purpose, you’ll be able to pick the right type of infographic for the job, saving you time and effort.
Here are some goals that you can aim for the next time you’re designing an infographic:
- Report on data.
- Raise awareness.
- Reveal patterns or trends.
- Simplify complex information.
- Highlight a sequence of events.
- Compare two or more ideas or concepts.
- Explain a process and showcase a step-by-step guide.
- Encourage people to buy a product or avail of a service.
3. Gather your information
After you nail down your target audience and infographic purpose, your next step is to gather the “info” (information) part of your infographic. Remember that the data and information you share are the foundation of a compelling and effective infographic.
Follow these steps to collect relevant and reliable information for your infographic:
- Consult open-source databases. Go to a local library or browse sites of government agencies.
- Explore websites that end in .edu, .org, and .gov. These are typically educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. The data presented on these websites are generally credible and authoritative (i.e., census data).
- Conduct in-person interviews or create a survey.
- Check for relevance and collect up-to-date information.
- Understand the intent of your source and find out if it’s an opinion or a fact.
4. Choose the type of infographic
As mentioned earlier, there are different types of infographics to choose from. Each type has its purpose, format, and way of displaying information.
For example, timeline infographics can either be presented vertically or horizontally, to present data on everything from project timelines to company history. Meanwhile, comparison infographics are often presented in vertical format, and can present in forms such as bar graphs to pie charts to show differing data sets.
Knowing your infographic’s look will help you pick the right infographic template.
5. Create a logical hierarchy
Create a logical hierarchy in your infographic by planning its structure in a visually engaging way. Writing for an infographic is different from writing content for a blog post or an academic paper.
Before you create infographics, write your content either in Word or in a Google Doc. This will give you an overview of your infographic content, and you can switch data around without editing your infographic.
Your custom infographic should contain the following elements:
- Body Content
6. Pick and customize a template for designing infographics
The best part about making different types of infographics these days is that you don’t have to start from scratch.
For example, you can browse through Piktochart’s infographic template collection, and pick the suitable template based on your own infographic goals and the type of information you’re about to present.
From hierarchical infographics to infographic resumes, you can customize all our templates’ visual format options with your preferred visual content to deliver your message; it takes a few clicks to tailor it to your preferences. You can also mix and match colors as needed. Before you know it, you’re all set!
An added benefit of static infographic templates is you can reuse and repurpose your infographic templates. This is particularly useful when you create reports or graphics that have to be updated regularly.
7. Download your infographic
After all the hard work, you’re ready to download, embed, and share your infographic. Before you download and say, “that’s a wrap!” you have to:
- Check the validity of your sources.
- Double-check for typos and grammar errors.
- Have someone go over your infographic and ask for feedback.
With Piktochart’s infographic maker, there are many download options to choose from, whether you’re planning to share your infographic online or offline for marketing content for your content strategy.
Create Your Own Infographics Using Our Infographic Examples
When you present data and convey information to your audience in any visual way, your goal is to have them process it. Visually engaging infographics help your audience accomplish this goal more effectively.
Get started with your first infographic today. Sign up for a free Piktochart account.