I was reading about the end of the Oxford printed dictionary yesterday and that reading launched me on a tangent that landed me on this infographic about printed material.

Is Print Dead

The infographic is so powerful in delivering the message.  The statistics and details are really “in your face”" and sends a strong message in an easily read format. 

Recently, @pmcash was crowd sourcing his IDC curriculum looking for ideas and my contribution to the conversation was to include infographics and infographic design in the mix.  As it happens, he’s got that listed in a tentative outline that he shared with us yesterday on his blog.  I think that it’s a great idea for a unit in communications.  As with many internet things, looking at infographics could turn into a passive viewing endeavour or it could be a really powerful teaching and learning opportunity.  So powerful, in fact, that the New York Times has devoted space to the topic.

The expectations in the classroom would cover design, colour, research, statistics, publishing, web design, and possibily online Web2.0 tools. 

I think that it’s also an interesting take in publishing.  I think of my own experience and the use by myself and others with products like the Ministry licensed Microsoft Publisher product.  Some of the standard uses and wisdoms included:

  • start with any of the included templates;
  • use font changes sparingly;
  • use graphics and clipart only as needed to enhance the message;
  • use snaking columns to connect ideas;
  • don’t use all caps, and if you must, just in titles and headings;
  • avoid gradients;
  • add white space for readability…

The list goes on and on and you know what?  You can throw it all away.  You want to “unlearn” something?  Unlearn desktop publishing design rules as you head into this forum.  This is an entirely new medium for publishing a message. 

When you think about it, the power of the infographic lies in:

  • strong research;
  • identifying quick hitting and salient points;
  • attacking a topic from all angles;
  • lead the reader’s eye through the content;
  • make your points and motivate the reader to do additional reading.

It’s a whole new and very powerful concept.  The more I think about it, the more that I think that it can be an incredibly useful activity for business communications and marketing courses and design courses which would allow this technique to spill over into all subject areas.



  1. Great points Doug. It’s really quite amazing when you think of how much we do as ‘less is more’ in this time-starved day and age: kids’ (and now adults’) text messages, meal-in-a-box, Twitterspeak with 140 characters, and other instant publications, etc. As a society, we are constantly looking for short-cuts and time-savers. I think this trend will only expand and grow, especially with infographics. Maybe someday we will long for a return to a slower, gentler pace of life.


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