“An effective infographic is the result of combining pictures with words,” said Alberto Cairo, author of “The Functional Art,” at the Society for News Design (SND) conference. Earlier this month, I took a trip to Louisville, Ky., to connect with journalists and designers who work hard to tell great visual stories.

Cairo was explaining that it’s not enough to just display a chart — context is important, and good text provides clarity. I also like his choice of the word “pictures.” Visual elements take many forms, and it’s not only charts that we should be thinking about when describing information graphics.

Over the past year, while developing software to simplify the process of creating interactive infographics, I’ve struggled to find a simple definition. One of the slides in my presentation that I gave at SND — called “The Machine Influence on Data Design” — offered several answers that I’ve heard when I ask people “What is an infographic?”

What is an infographic?

The definition is hazy for many, but for the purpose of this talk I defined it broadly: an infographic is a graphical display of information.

What’s your definition?

Trina Chiasson  
Residential fellow


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