I was looking at Phil Gyford's Infographic and wanted some clarification on the proper way to develop and maintain an Infographic. The majority seen on Twitter and Graphic Design Blogs ... are they correct or just low quality reworks ?

I assume visualizations are a subset so is there some mixing up of terms going on ? I know I have remembered seeing in Geography books in High School Graphics displaying information ( Those that divide the earth in layers and such), for the sake that this was the best way to display that information.

I have no design background/principles but I want to know when to acknowledge great work when I see it.

  • I think you need to focus on your question a bit - you're asking a simple question in the heading, then raising two much more involved isues in the first paragraph. I do like the Phil Gyford example though - not seen that before!
    – e100
    Commented Jan 5, 2011 at 9:19
  • @e100 Yea I didn't know what to put I tried :( , how about "The correct definition on info-graphics" ? As you saw in Phil's display there is a rift between what is accepted and not accepted and by whom. If you get a better title feel free to edit. Just click the edit button :)
    – phwd
    Commented Jan 5, 2011 at 9:39
  • Can't edit titles yet.
    – e100
    Commented Jan 5, 2011 at 11:01
  • What is the difference between Infographic and Information-graphics Tags?
    – Dan Hanly
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 13:02
  • 1
    @Daniel: I messed up :-(
    – e100
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 19:11

2 Answers 2


Info-graphics , Informative Graphics and Visualizations: Are they the same term ?

I'd say:

  • Yes, "Info-graphics" is just a shorthand for "Informative Graphics", and
  • No, "Visualizations" is a more general term than "info-graphics." I.e., a visualization does not need to be an info-graphic, whereas an info-graphics is a visualization.
  • 1
    Agree, except it's probably more common to refer to 'information graphics' rather than 'informative graphics'.
    – e100
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 19:10

The excellent data visualisation blog Flowing Data had a good one on The Many Terms For Visualisation. It's a bit focussed on the geeky end of the data visualisation world the author works in, but it's pretty good.

In general in the wild...

  • data visualisation or visualisation tends to be used when people are talking about something that is first and foremost a tool for people already interested in a topic to ask their own questions and find things out, drilling down into the data or facts. Getting casual people interested in the topic is a secondary aim (if an aim at all). They're usually complex, often interactive, and have a design that is led by form-follows-function and signal-to-noise principles.

  • Infographic tends to be used for information-based graphics that are the other way around: first and foremost about attracting and intriguing people with a low level of interest in the topic and turning disinterested people into keenly interested people. Enabling keen people to drill down into data and ask their own questions is a secondary aim, if an aim at all. They are often static images to aid sharing via social media, and usually (when done well) have a design focused on creating a strong, attention grabbing visual hierarchy and a clear narrative flow.

In short, data visualisations are things a person comes to and interrogates, and infographics, things people are drawn to and read.

Of course, there's a huge amount of overlap between the two and the best examples of information design achieve both these aims and work as both visualisations and infographics: attracting people, creating interest, and then enabling them to drill down into facts and data they previously didn't think they were interested in.

Part of the reason there's a terminological divide (which is narrowing: as the discipline improves, more people don't see any sharp distinction) is that there is still something of a cultural divide:

  • visualisations tend(ed) to be lead by analytical people (statisticians, programmers, researchers, scientists, technically oriented designers)
  • infographics tend(ed) to be lead by communications people (marketeers, illustrators, copywriters, journalists, creatively oriented designers)

This cultural divide is thankfully closing, and the best information graphics come from teams with a healthy mix of analytical and communications people.

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