Consider Your Infographic’s Main Points

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

Your thesis is the argument you’re making. The data in your infographic is the evidence you present in support of that argument. You can also use data that provides the reader with context and a deeper understanding of your thesis to enrich your argument.

To achieve that goal, all the data you present has to relate to your thesis in a concrete way. Data that loosely centers on a theme isn’t quite enough. A reader will recognize it for what it is: disjointed and unfocused information with no ultimate goal in mind.

Use data to illustrate your thesis

Figure out what data directly proves your argument, which (after all) is the cornerstone of your infographic. For example, an infographic on the rising popularity of tofu in Europe should include stats showing that sales or consumption of tofu have gone up. Or, an infographic exploring the obscure subcultures that exist around online games might be composed entirely of examples and explanations of these subcultures.

Add details to flesh out the main point

Other data you will likely want to include comprises anything that explains your thesis. This data provides your readers with context and enriches their understanding of the topic. Is tofu booming in Europe because vegetarianism is becoming more popular? Has a bumper year for soy beans made the crop suddenly inexpensive? As a journalist, it’s always good to ask, “Why?”

Make sure there’s a solid link between the data and your thesis. Avoid coincidence.

Look for implications of your thesis

If your thesis has significant consequences, showing what they are helps illustrate why the point you’re making is important. Say your graphic centers on a city’s new subway system, and as a result of that system, people are driving less, and carbon emissions have fallen 20 percent. If it’s relevant to your overall thesis, that information can demonstrate why the issue is worth the attention.

You should have already answered the “Why?” Answering the remaining W’s — who, what, when, and where — can provide valuable context to your reader. Not every graphic needs to answer all these questions, but knowing the answers in your mind can help you clearly present your information and can also add another layer of interest to your infographic.

Use extra information wisely

Sometimes the most interesting information doesn’t explain your thesis at all but acts as an engrossing subtopic or tangent. An infographic on how a disease works might delve into the latest treatment options, for instance. You might also find some obscure bit of data that isn’t necessarily of great consequence but is still just plain fun or fascinating.

Maybe the disease got its name from some bizarre reason that merits a small space in your graphic. There’s nothing wrong with including that sort of information, especially if you know it will delight your readers. Just use your judgment and consider whether it will make your infographic better or detract from your point.

As you construct your graphic, periodically ask yourself whether each element relates to your thesis in a concrete way and also whether it adds value. If you find the answer is “no” with any element, cut it.