Infographics: what they are and why you need them!

What are infographics?

The term infographics refers to a collection of images, charts and minimal text that provides a summary of a topic.1 Essentially, “an infographic uses visual cues to communicate information”.2

A graphical representation of 
 infographics. One infographic is on a display board and as handouts.

Why would I use an infographic?

Our medical writers use infographics to break down complex topics. This makes them ideal for:

  1. patient information materials, where they can help explain procedures or disease management
  2. healthcare professional education
  3. industry information, such as product explanations3

Many journals are now encouraging the submission of graphical abstracts (or infographics) alongside the traditional manuscript. Including an infographic increases abstract views and Altmetric scores.4

The 7 GRAPHIC Principles of Infographic Design

Stone and Gent have developed the 7 GRAPHIC Principles of Infographic Design, a set of evidence based guidelines to help with the development of infographics for the general public.2 These principles provide a great starting point for the development of any infographic.

The 7 GRAPHIC Principles of Infographic Design are:

G – get to know your audience

R – restrict colour

A – align elements

P – prioritise parts

H – highlight the heading

I – invest in imagery

C – choose charts carefully

Get to know your audience

The first four questions you need to ask when creating an infographic are:

1) Who is your audience?

2) How will they see the infographic?

3) What is the key ‘take away’ message?

4) What are the key barriers to communication?

Restrict colour

Try to keep your colour palette to between three to five colours. You should use tints, tones and shades of these colours to enhance your design.

Align elements

Use a grid design to ensure that elements line up. Make good use of white space. This can aid reading.

Prioritise parts

Your focal point should reinforce your key message. Key statistics should be displayed in larger fonts.

Highlight the heading

The heading should be easily identifiable and a dominant element of your infographic design.

Invest in imagery

Pictures can help to aid recall – but conversely too many images can slow down comprehension. It is important to check that your images communicate the message that you think they do. This is most easily done with focus groups.

Choose Charts Carefully

Charts are not always well understood. Bar charts should be simple and appropriately labelled. Use stacked bar charts, pie charts and other unusual graph formats with caution.

In summary

Infographics are a creative, yet effective way of summarizing scientific information. They are more likely to be remembered than text and can increase the impact of your research. Infographics may also help to increase understanding of scientific concepts by non-experts.

Infographic references

1.         Nediger M. What is an Infographic? Examples, Templates & Design Tips. Vennegage. 24 October, 2023. Updated 25 June Accessed 1 October, 2020.

2.         Stones C, Gent M. The 7 Graphic Principals of Public Health Infographic Design. 2015.

3.         Martin K. A picture is worth a thousand words. Medical Writing. 2020;29(1):28-34.

4.         Huang S, Martin LJ, Yeh CH, et al. The effect of an infographic promotion on research dissemination and readership: A randomized controlled trial. CJEM. Nov 2018;20(6):826-833. doi:10.1017/cem.2018.436