How to Gather Data for Your Infographics

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

With a plan in hand for your infographics project, you’ll begin to map out your story by gathering data. At the core of every infographic is data — that’s the “info(rmation)” part of “info-graphic” — so gathering that information must be a crucial part of your process.

Even if it isn’t the very first step (after all, you might think of an idea before you know what information is out there), information-gathering is always one of the first steps.

Good data serves as the foundation for everything to come after. If your data isn’t accurate, your infographic won’t be successful.

Just as there’s no one way to approach infographics, there’s no single way to gather data. You could

  • Explore databases.

    Many government agencies and universities have publicly accessible databases.

  • Examine tax records.

    Call or visit a township assessor’s office.

  • Search historical records.

    Try a university library or county historical society.

  • Conduct in-person research or interviews.

    Get out of the office and meet people.

  • Read books, maps, and almanacs.

    Online or paper versions are great.

  • Browse the Internet.

Also on your docket are the ways to keep track of your data: old-school notebook, Microsoft Word file, spreadsheet program? All are viable options, depending on your work style and the type of research involved. For example, data tracked over several years works well in a spreadsheet.

If you’re interviewing someone to get your data, take a practice run to see whether you prefer typing notes into a Word file or jotting them down in a notebook.

While you’re researching, keep close track of the sources you use. Any facts that make it into your final infographic should be attributed, most likely in a footnote at the base of your graphic. As long as you properly attribute, you won’t need to seek specific permission to use publicly available information.