Randy Krum infographic designerRandy Krum

President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization, Infographic Design, Visual Thinking, Product Development and Marketing professional fascinated by good infographics.  Always looking for better ways to get the point across.

Infographic Design

Infographics Design | Presentations
Consulting | Data Visualizations

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Caffeine Poster

The Caffeine Poster infographic

Google Insights


First Date vs. Reality TV First Date (Data Underload infographic)

I really enjoyed Nathan’s latest Data Underload humorous infographic, First Date vs. Reality TV First Date, from FlowingData.com.


The Apple Field Guide

Our friends at Column Five Media created this humorous Apple Field Guide for Fast Company.

The question isn’t, “Do you use Apple devices,” but “Which one?” And “Where?” Here’s a cut-out-and-keep cheat sheet.


The Color of Twitter

I really like The Color of Twitter from InfoChimps.org that plots the background colors used by all 40 million of the Twitter.com users.  I do think the infographic would be better if they had actually extended out the default light blue color instead of just noting that it extends 4.8x longer.  They also don’t account for background images that cover the background color, which would account for a large number of people not changing their colors.

As part of the release of a number of new, free Twitter data sets, Infochimps created the following beautiful infographic showing just what color Twitter really is.

The data for the infographic comes from the just-launched Histograms dataset that aggregates anonymous data about Twitter users such as how many users have x number of friends or followers, or how many users are in x location. The company also released new data sets (paid) about stock tickers, hashtags and URLs on Twitter.

Found on Mashable.com


10 Tips for (journalists) Designing Infographics

This article was originally published on “Digital Newsgathering”, a class blog for Journalism 226 at San Francisco State University, Instructor: Staci Baird.  I wrote this post as a guest author, and with permission I am republishing it here.


Assuming you’re not working for a media corporation with huge graphics and statistics departments at your disposal, you may want to create some infographics for your own articles.  With today’s flood of information, infographics allow readers to quickly digest and understand complex data.  A good infographic will not only inform readers, but will also create interest and convince people to read your article similar to how good headlines and photos attract readers.  In contrast, both boring and overly complex graphics will quickly convince readers to ignore your article.

Here are 10 tips for designing better infographics (click the images to go to their original sites):


1) Be Concise: Design your infographic to convey one idea really well.  You’re not writing a scientific research paper, so don’t expect your reader to dig into a lot of detail.  This doesn’t mean you should only visualize one number, but your entire graphic should support one of the major points from the article.  You can include additional facts or information to make the infographic stand on its own, but don’t lose sight of the point you want to get across.

This example is an infographic poster I created about the caffeine content in drinks.  At this size, you can easily tell which drinks have more or less caffeine, and if you decide to view the higher-resolution image you can dig deeper into the details and additional information that’s included in the poster.

The Caffeine Poster, by Randy Krum


2) Be Visual:  Design your infographic with your final for viewing size in mind.  A number of articles online require the viewers to click on a text link to view the graphics that accompany an article, and I believe this is a huge mistake.  Design your graphics to be viewed in-line with your article.  There’s nothing wrong with allowing viewers to click the image to see a high-resolution version, but they should be able to understand the image when viewed with the article.  A side benefit is that a viewable image also allows for readers to share the image by itself on social media sites easily.

Google PageRank Explained, by Elliance


3) Be Smarter:  Build your data and explanation right into the infographic, and don’t make your readers have to work hard to understand what they’re seeing.  Your infographic shouldn’t need a legend to be understandable, and there’s no reason to ask your readers to keep moving their eyes back and forth between the chart and the legend to understand the graphic.  Treat your readers as intelligent and make your graphic look professional by including the relevant descriptions and numbers in the infographic.

Who Participates Online?, by Arno Ghelfi for Wired Magazine


4) Be Transparent:  Infographics can be used to lead readers to the wrong conclusions.  Always cite your data sources and allow readers to dig deeper into the data if they have the desire.  Some of the best articles include easy access to the source data with links to a spreadsheet for readers to view on their own.

BBC Budget, by David McCandless

See the visual. Explore the data.


5) Be Different:  If you can avoid it, don’t use a bar chart, a line chart or a pie chart.  This infographic of visualization styles is a great resource to help determine a good visual to use for your data.  The different styles are grouped together by the type do data they are trying to communicate and in the interactive version, an example is shown as you mouse over each style.

Periodic Table of Visualization, by Visual-Literacy.org


6) Be Accurate: Remember your geometry and visualize differences using area.  When trying to convey the scale of your data, many graphics use different sized shapes or images to show amounts relative to each other.  The reader’s eye sees the total area of the image as indicative of scale, not just the height of the image. 

For example, if you’re using circles to show one number is 3 times larger than another, the area of the circle must be in proportion to the values being represented.  If you make the mistake of making the diameter of the circle 3 times larger, the area is actually 9 times larger.

Circle Areas, by Randy Krum

The infographic below breaks down the number of FedEx trucks using the area of the circles in a mind map style image.  This could have been a simple bar chart, but it’s much more visually appealing as a bubble mind map.

The Fedex Universe, by Robin Richards for MeetTheBoss.tv

NOTE: One common exception to this is a standard bar chart.  No matter how wide the bars are, the height is the only dimension that conveys meaning.


7) Be Attractive: Include visuals:  Illustrations and photos included in the infographic make a big difference.  Even though this example is a bar chart, the inclusion of the company logos make it quicker and easier for the reader to understand.

What Does Your Email Provider Say About You?, by CreditKarma.com


8) Be Varied:  Find a good visual style that’s right for the data you’re trying to share.  If your data is about countries, plot it on a world map not a bar chart that lists countries.  Also, don’t be afraid to mix visualization styles together in one infographic.  

This example infographic by Emily Schwartzman about the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti won a design contest from GOOD Magazine, and mixes map data with a stacked bar and colored boxes for percentages.  This is also a great example of viewing size.  You can see and understand the visuals, but the actual numbers are available if you view the high-resolution version.

Haiti Earthquake Infographic, by Emily Schwartzman


9) Be Gracious:  Work on the assumption that your infographic may be viewed or shared without the article you originally designed it for.  Make sure that the final graphic includes the following pieces:

  • Copyright, to be explicit about any rights and terms of use
  • Source data, so anyone can check your facts
  • Designer’s name, always give credit to the artist/illustrator/programmer/designer
  • Original image/article address, so anyone who sees the image can find your original article


10) Be Creative:  Use whatever tools you have available to create your infographic.  Of course, the tools you use will depend on what you are trying to visualize.  Many infographics can be created using simple applications like a vector drawing program (like OmniGraffle or Microsoft Visio), a charting program (like Microsoft Office or Apple iWork) or an image editing program (like Adobe Photoshop).

Here are some visual tools available on the Internet: 


Visualizing Tax Brackets

Steve and the infographic team from WeatherSealed.com bring us this great infographic that visualizes the historical U.S. income tax brackets.

Yes, in the 1950’s and 1960’s the top tier tax bracket was a staggering 90%!

To illustrate, Weather Sealed’s infographic team charted the historical U.S. income tax brackets for singles, adjusted for inflation, from 1910 to present.  The colors indicate the marginal tax rate: black for low, red in the middle, and yellow for high.  The horizontal axis is the tax year, and the vertical represents taxable income, log-scale, normalized to 2010 dollars with the Bureau Of Labor Statistics’ monthly CPI-U figures.  The bracket data comes from The Tax Foundation and the IRS, and the effects of Social Security, capital gains, AMT, and other tax varieties are not included.

Found on ChartPorn.org and VisualizingEconomics.com


Cooking for Engineers...recipe infographics! (and interview)

Michael Chu has been running the CookingForEngineers.com site for 6 years now, and he developed this infographic recipe table using HTML tables.  His recipe table is essentially a timeline of making that particular recipe, but also lists every ingredient, ingredient amounts, recipe instructions and the points in time they are added to the dish.  All in one, compact visual image.  Outstanding!

Michael also demonstrates each step of the recipes with pictures so you know what it should look like when you attempt the recipe.

Michael was also nice enough to answer a few interview questions I sent him:

Cool Infographics: What software applications do you use for the recipe graphics?

Michael: I use a text editor and write the HTML for the recipe tables by hand.  For the graphics used on my business cards and T-shirts and other merchandise, I copy and paste the browser rendered table into excel for some slight tweaking. Then I copy and paste into Adobe Illustrator for final adjustments.

Cool Infographics: What was your inspiration behind developing the recipe graphic?

Michael: I developed it on my own based on a shorthand notation that used for years to write down recipes on Post-It notes involving curly braces and actions scrawled on the side.

Cool Infographics: Have there been any recipes that have been particularly difficult to visualize?

Michael: Some recipes, especially ones involving discarding part of the ingredients and reintroducing ingredients at various points in time do not lend themselves to the recipe summary table.

Cool Infographics: What’s your most complicated recipe graphic?

Michael: It’s hard to determine… most recipes don’t come out all that complicated. The real trouble is that sometimes browsers act funny and start sticking in vertical or horizontal lines where they do not belong.



Cool Infographics: I keep calling it a recipe graphic, what do you call that visual style?

Michael: I call them either recipe summary tables or Tabular Recipe Notation (TRN).

Cool Infographics: Have you seen anyone else start to use that type of visual graphic for recipes?

Michael: After I started using it, I have had a few people email asking permission to use the format for their own recipe books, etc.

Cool Infographics: How long have you been running Cooking for Engineers, and have you been using that recipe graphic the whole time?

Michael: Cooking For Engineers has been up and running since June 2004 and we’ve been using the table from day one. Incidentally, the first recipe posted is this one:



Check out all of Michaels’ recipes at CookingForEngineers.com


China's Global Investments - interactive map


Jon Bruner from Forbes.com has designed and posted an interactive timeline/map of the major investments China has made all over the world in the last five years.

When you first see the map, it’s an animated timeline that highlights which countries China invested in each month since March 2005.  The animation completes when it reaches December 2009, and then you can select a particular year by clicking on the total investment bars across the bottom or see the details behind any particular investment by mousing over one of the bubbles.  The bubble sizes represent the size of the investments.

Since 2005 Chinese firms and arms of the Chinese government have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign companies and raw materials. Each dot on this map tracks one of those investments, with larger dots representing larger investments. Explore the map by rolling over and clicking on the dots and timeline.

Thanks Jon for the link!


Follow the Money - infographic video

Follow the Money” is a video summarizing the results from the project by Northwestern University grad students Daniel Grady and Christian Thiemann.  Using data from the website Where’s George?, they have been able to track the movement of U.S. paper currency.  What can you learn from this?  That there are natural borders within the U.S. that don’t necessarily follow state borders, and it can also be used to predict the spread of disease because it maps movement of people within the U.S.

From Maria Popova on BrainPickings.org: This may sound like dry statistical uninterestingness, but the video visualization of the results is rather eye-opening, revealing how money — not state borders, not political maps, not ethnic clusters — is the real cartographer drawing our cultural geography.  The project was a winner at the 2009 Visualization Challenge sponsored by the National Science Foundation and AAA.


From Manuel Lima on VisualComplexity.com: Some places, such as Los Angeles, California, have many bills passing through it from across the nation, while others, such as Anderson County in Tennessee - Grady’s home - have bills circulating mainly within a more local neighborhood. Shown here are images from the video.  The data from the Where’s George? project is in fact so pertinent that is also being used by researchers to predict the spread of flu across the United States.

You can see the Northwest project site, which has a much more adademic title “Community Structure in Multi-Scale Transportation Networks”.

Rendered using Processing 1.0.6.  Found on VisualizingEconomics.com, VisualComplexity.com and Maria Popova has a good article on BrainPickings.org.


The Social Media Effect

This was the original infographic, The Social Media Effect, from InfographicWorld that inspired part of yesterday’s post, The Visual FAQ of SEO.  This infographic maps out the process of what happens when social media gets excited about your posted content.

A great example of why I started the Cool Infographics blog in the first place.  Create a great place to find inspiration to create your own infographics.


The Visual FAQ of SEO infographic

A Visual FAQ to SEO is a great infographic from Matt at Datadial.net covering many of the different aspects of Search Engine Optimization for your web pages.

Images are a fantastic way to present data and abstract concepts, they’re a much clearer way of getting information across and more people take the time to digest it. I thought it would be a good idea to try to present solutions and explanations to the more common SEO questions that we hear from our clients.

The image covers everything from basic keyword research concepts, through site architecture, page optimisation, link building, SEO tactics, social media, and some basic SEO and PPC clickthrough stats and explantions.

Portions appear to be inspired by The Social Media Effect from Infographic World.  (Look for tomorrow’s post)

Found on Social Media Graphics