What are the rules when it comes down to picking out the right copy for your infographic? I was wondering this a few days ago and realized that there aren’t too many really good sources that provide this kind of information. Knowing which words to include in an infographic is very important if you want to make sure your readers are taking away the most valuable points from your content.
Considering that infographics are predominantly visual, and most have very minimal wording, your choice of text becomes, even more, important. Typically if the word doesn’t add to a reader’s understanding of the topic, remove it all together.
So where and when should you include text in your infographic? Well, it goes without saying that the title includes text, but in addition, to that, you will need an introduction, section subheadings, chart or icon labels, explanatory narrative, key takeaways, sources and of course, your branding.
Here’s an example of what that might look like:
According to CoSchedule and their headline analyzer, the ideal headline or title should be:
- 5 words or less
- Information rich (i.e., summarizes the article- or in this case, infographic)
- Begins with your keywords
- Understandable out of context
- Predictable and match your reader’s expectations
The reason being, you want your title to stand out, but not be too much of a mouthful that the reader is struggling to understand what your content is even about. Keep it short and simple, and it will generate more clicks in the long-run.
Once your reader gets past the title, the next thing they are going to see is the introduction. Your intro acts as a hook to draw your reader in. Ultimately it decides whether or not they continue to look at your infographic. Try to keep this short, concise and punchy. Think about when you open a new book for the first time- if the first few sentences aren’t very enticing, it’s very rare that you will feel the desire to continue forward.
Your subheadings are what will guide your reader throughout your infographic. These are almost as important as having a title, because without them, how will your reader know what each part is about. Again, subheadings should be no more than 5 words, but ideally, keep them to one or two words that really specify what the section is about. In the example above, each subheading is one or two words at most.
Chart and icon labels:
It’s not easy to decipher a chart without labels or explanations. Take a look at this image:
Can you understand exactly what each icon represents without the labels? Maybe in context, you could figure it out, but without some kind of hint, it’s nearly impossible to discern.
Here’s the image with the labels:
That’s better right? Everything makes much more sense when in context.
Chart and icon labels are crucial in order for your audience to associate an image with a meaning. If you saw an apple and were never told it was an apple, it would just be another random object in the universe.
This is essentially the textual meat of your infographic. Your main narrative should be a simple explanation of the topic that makes up your various subsections. For instance, if the subheading were just entitled “Negative Space” and I included an image but no explanation of why that image reflected the meaning “Negative Space”, it wouldn’t be particularly helpful. Your narrative provides the “what” of an image or title. Without it, you leave your audience in the dark.
Now this section is not always included in infographics, and it doesn’t have to be, but it provides a nice little summary of the main ideas you’re trying to express. If you want, you can use either “key takeaways” or “explanatory narrative”. They can easily be cross-functional. This part of your infographic provides a few words to summarize an idea or concept. It further analyzes the explanatory narrative and provides the “why” or “how”. This is important for educating your audience so that once they finish reading your infographic, they truly understand the concept, rather than just know of it.
If you’ve done research and included notes and concepts in your infographic that are not your own, you need to include sources. A simple link or URL for where you got the information is enough, but you can also include the name of the author and title of the webpage (or book) where you got the information. Sources not only add credibility to your infographic, but it demonstrates integrity as well. If your words are your own, feel free to reference your own site, or simply leave that section blank.
Finally, since you’ve put so much effort into designing your infographic, provided you did so without a designer’s assistance, you can add your branding. If you worked with a designer and they have a personal brand, it’s encouraged to co-brand the work, unless otherwise stated in your contract. The reason you need to brand your infographic is because, in the event that it goes viral, you want people to be able to come back to the original source. Besides, if people like what you’re featuring in your visualizations, they might just come back for more!
It’s not always easy to figure out what you should keep in your infographic and what should be cut out. Just remember that simplicity is key. After all, you do want your imagery to do most of the talking.