How an infographic can paint a thousand words

Humans are visual animals. Research has shown that we learn and recall information that is presented as pictures more easily than when the same information is presented as words. This idea has even been given its own title – the ‘picture superiority effect’ – otherwise known as ‘a picture paints a thousand words’.

In one experiment, for example, people could remember more than 2500 pictures with at least 90% accuracy several days after seeing the pictures, and could still remember them with around 63% accuracy a year later. Another experiment tested how well people remembered material from primary-school books 20 or 30 years later. Pictures and words together were recognised most accurately, followed by just pictures, then just words.

When should I use an infographic?

Infographics are a visual way to depict information. They go beyond a simple diagram to present a narrative or process. They are particularly useful for conveying scientific concepts or processes. If effective, they can engage audiences more than text explanations.

If you find yourself saying:

  • I need to explain how this process works
  • I need my readers to really understand this idea
  • I have some interesting data but a graph is boring
  • I need my readers to see the most important feature at a glance

an infographic might be your answer.

Biotext worked with the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility to create infographics that clearly explained sea level rise and why adaptation is important, the various options for adaptation, and what needs to be considered in decision making.