4 facts that introduce what an infographic/ data visualisation is…

Graphical presentations have been helping us make sense of data for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. Some say the first methods of visual communication dates back to cave paintings. It is important to remember it is a form of communication, not a pretty picture.

#1 They were used by Queen Victoria.

One early examples is Florence Nightingale’s ‘Mortality Map’(1857). Nightingale used statistical graphics to explain mortality rates in the armed forces to Queen Victoria.

Florence Nightingale’s ‘Mortality Map’

#2 The tube map was one of the first ‘mainstream’ infographics

Other milestones include the first diagrammatic ‘Tube Map’, designed by the London Undergrounds Signal Office’ draftsman and engineer Harry Beck, 1931.

This iconic diagram, introduced the general public to ‘statistical graphics’, and transitioned ‘data visualisation’ into everyday life.

Harry Beck’s Tube Map

#3 Infographics is a form of data visualisation

The term infographics can be more recently attributed as a modern take on a branch within statistical graphics. Infographics is said to be born from the rules of statistical graphics created by American statistician Edward Tufte. Tufte is noted for his writings on information design and is seen as a pioneer in the field of data visualisation.

#4 Data visualisation have 4 main categories

According to Edward Tufte, the way we split data visualisation up is in these four categories.

1. Data Maps

2. Time Series

3. Space + Time graphics

4. Relation (relative) Graphics

This is the first part of a series of small texts guiding you to the right kind of infographics. See the next text for the rules that help you decide if you have a good infographic.

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