top of page

Are Infographics are the Dick and Jane books of the 21st Century?

In print and on the web, the use of infographics are proliferating as the mediums converge. The rule of thumb for multi-media is to use about 30% of your on-screen real estate for textual information. Websites follow this rule when laid out in a three column format using a center column for textual content and flanking columns for navigation on the one hand and associated content on the other. Breaking up text with dominant graphics is a common style followed by advertizers as well as page layout artists.

The infographic is an example of these principles pushed to a logical conclusion. Want to show the relationship between chalk and cheese? Use an infographic. Want to illustrate the effect of a butterfly flapping its wings in China on the weather patterns along the coast of Prince Edward Island. Use an infographic.

Nevermind the complexity of linguistic morphology as a method of imprinting the cliché or the development of chaos theory through Hienrich Boll's Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, an infographic will provide a pretty combination of circles and arrows that conveys information and eats up all that troublesome space in your publication.

The thing is that the infographic appears to stand in for knowlegde similar to the way that a Dick and Jane book stands in for reading comprehension. That is to say that as a primer, the infographic serves as a jumping off point for a deeper, more thoughtful investigation of the material at hand and never as an end in itself.

Like a book of lists, the infographic is interesting in as much as it elicits a, "huh, really?" response form the reader and not much else.

Use an Infographic to show your ability to parse knowledge to a digestible format and to balance your layout by all means, but do not use it as a substitute for presenting deeper meaning or working out complex ideas. You may get the eyes onthe page that you desire, but if the readers want to only see Dick run and you are advertizing "Speedy Autolocomotion in the Visible Spectrum", you may have to do the hard work and write a technical document to be reviewed by that elusive consumer of purposeful reading.

bottom of page