Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualizations

The Basics:

Data visualizations, frequently referred to as information graphics, are a powerful tool that will inform and educate your readers. Often important data-heavy information can bog down a narrative or slow the pacing of a story. That data might be edited out to streamline a story or put into a table for readers to browse. A better solution is to use simple graphics that can be created in minutes and delivered for free using web tools.  These information graphics will compliment and add context to your stories. Graphics can help you highlight  important information from a database in a way much easier to understand than a text-only presentation. – Data Visulations: Basics by Len DeGroot

Places to start exploring:

Visual.ly is great place for exploring, creating, and sharing infographics. And it’s a hub to connect designers with clients.

FlowingData explores how designers, statisticians, and computer scientists are using data and visualization.

VisualJournalism – A blog on information graphics and journalism by Gert K. Nielsen.

Data Journalism Blog – A blog that covers how journalists are using data to tell stories.

Data Journalism Handbook – This open-source book is a collaboration of 50 journalists and programmers and offers data journalism case studies from news organizations like The New York Times, Financial Times, Guardian, and Chicago Tribune.

Four Common Infographics You Can Create:

1. A word cloud is a visual representation for text data that seeks to demonstrate how words are used.

For example: Here is a wordcloud of the most common words used in each presidential inaugural address from Washington to Obama.

You can make your own with http://www.wordle.net/

2. Graphs and Charts

USAToday is famous for their simple charts and graphs.

You can make pie, bar, line and other charts using Google docs or a program like Piktochart

3. Interactive map mashups have become a standard way to tell a geographic story on the web. A mashup is an application that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool.

See 7 innovative online maps

Google Maps allows you to clickable maps and embedded them in your blog.

3 minute intro to GoogleMyMaps (video)
How do I embed a Google Map on WordPress.com? (see Exercise 11)
11 Google Map exercises

4. A timeline can be a great way to tell a story that stretches over a long period of time. It can also be used to chronicle the life of a person or institution.

Look at an overview of Joe Paterno’s career from the New York Times and a unique way of tracking the 2011 Middle East protests

Dipity and timetoast are simple tools to create online timelines.

See How To Create a Timeline with Dipity.com

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