By Calista Lynn

Infographics have long been aiding visual learners through its representation of data (Featherstone). Infographics assemblage text, numbers, charts, graphs, maps, and characters to display data in a visually accessible argument (Featherstone). In the 1980s, infographics were used in newsletters, newspapers, magazines, and reports to support a story, but they also have an extensive history in medicine and particular epidemiology (Siricharoen, Featherstone). Infographics were popularized in newspapers in part thanks to Peter Sullivan, a graphic designer who used infographics in his work for The Sunday Times from 1970s to the 1990s (Siricharoen).

Peter Sullivan. Zeebrugge ferry disaster. March 1987.

Tableau de L’Histoire Universelle is one example of an early infographic from Paris (Rogers). It was published in 1858 to illustrate the history of humankind starting with the creation of Adam and Eve (Rogers). Individual cultures are depicted as rivers in this visualization (Rogers).

Unknown. Tableau de L’Histoire Universelle. 1858.

Instead of just assisting a story, today more and more infographics take the primary narrative (Siricharoen). In the digital age, infographics find a greater place in circulating information (Siricharoen). They are able to display the same information but in a visual way that is quicker and more successful at conveying information to the masses (Featherstone). Research data often gets forgotten in scholarly publications (Featherstone). These days many of us first hear of news through different social media platforms. As hundreds of things compete for our attention daily, we need things to immediately catch our eye for us to pay attention (Siricharoen). One study shows that visual tweets, such as those with photos or videos, get more online mentions and generate more media traffic than text-based messages (Featherstone).

Some ways that infographics have been modernized is through the use of 3D rendering and animation or GIFs (Siricharoen). Jing Zhang is an example of a successful contemporary graphic designer and illustrator who uses these techniques in her infographics.

Jing Zhang, Starwood Infographic, 2015
Jing Zhang. Starwood Infographic. 2015.

Infographics are a significant form of graphic design as they require a great amount of information to be communicated in a visually efficient way. I hope to see more people utilizing infographics as they make complex information not only accessible and easy to read, but also enjoyable (Siricharoen).


     Featherstone, Robin. “Visual Research Data: an Infographics Primer.” Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association / Journal De L’Association Des Bibliothèques De La Santé Du Canada, vol. 35, no. 3, 2014, p. 147., doi:10.5596/c14-031.

Gadney, Max. “Training the Big Guns.” Eye Magazine, 2012,

“Jing Zhang Illustration.” Jing Zhang Illustration,

Rogers, Simon. “Infographics Old and New: Top Data Visualisations, in Pictures.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 16 Mar. 2012,

Siricharoen, Waralak V. “Infographics: The New Communication Tools in the Digital Age.” Research Gate, Sept. 2013,

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