10 Lame Documents that Would Be Better as Infographics

Infographics, it seems, have taken the media by storm. Because they are visually attractive, eye-catching, accessible, fun, and–if done well–quickly and effectively informative, people are drawn to them. And businesses have caught wind of this. We see infographics in magazines, on blogs, and even on corporate “About Us” pages in order to sell news, ideas, and products.

But what if infographics were used for more “common” documents–the stuff we use day-to-day? Would they make our lives easier? Would they make otherwise-boring documents more enticing to read? Would they help us make better choices?

Here’s my list of ten documents that I think could be improved if we turned them into infographics.

#1: Recipes
Ever found yourself missing a step or an ingredient in a recipe because it was buried in a long list or dense paragraph? If a recipe turned visual, I’m guessing we’d be less apt to miss steps and ingredients. Here’s a recipe infographic from ForRent.com that I think would be a welcome change to the traditional recipe:

Recipe Infographic


#2: Résumés
For far too long, résumés have remained dull and difficult-to-read documents. What if more of us organized our résumés so that our skills were easier to find and more interesting to look at? Here is an infographic résumé by Tina Chen that heads us in that direction:



#3: Instructions
Some are better than others (IKEA has taken a beating for some of theirs), but instructions that are entirely visual oriented have great potential. The fact is, when most of us are using something or putting something together, we are looking at an visual display or object. Wouldn’t it be better if our instructions matched what we saw? Here are some infographic instructions from Lenovo we might consider adapting to:

Infographic instructions


#4: Course Syllabi
Who ever reads their teacher’s course syllabus? Would students be more likely to read course syllabi (and find the information they need in them) if they were simplified? Here’s the first page of an infographic course syllabus that I created for a course on infographics:

infographic syllabus


#5: City Maps
Technically, most city maps could already be considered infographics (they are, by their nature, visual and they are color-coded and visually organized), but what if they were spruced up more to highlight certain venues? What if, for example, a city created an infographic map that highlighted eating and night life? Here’s a great example of a city map infographic the city of London created for highlighting Olympic venues:

City Map Infographic


#6: Nutrition Guides
Okay, it’s true: our current “MyPlate” and the previous “Food Pyramid” can certainly be considered infographics. But they really aren’t all that helpful (see my article about their history in America). What if every country adopted a more useful nutrition guide that detailed all the information we really need to know? Check out how Australia created an infographic nutrition guide that really works:

Infographic Nutrition Guide


#7: Packing and Shopping Lists
Why would a packing or shopping list be useful if organized visually? Consider a shopping list that was organized by location in a grocery store. I would love a grocery store to have an app that let you put in your list and then have it spit out a visualized document that pointed to where everything was. Wouldn’t that be great? Here’s a simpler version, however, how you might conceive an infographic for a packing list:

Packing List Infographic


#8: Receipts
Receipts?? Why not? Currently, receipts serve only to show how much we spent and what we bought in case we need to return something or get a reimbursement. But what if receipts visually organized our purchases by type, price, and value? Could they help us budget a little better? The image here isn’t great, but this is an interesting receipt infographic concept by Britt Cobb for visualizing what we buy:

Infographic Receipt


#9: Nutrition Label
While nutrition labels have gotten (slightly) better over the years, there is much that could still be done. If a little color and a few shapes were added, we might better recognize the healthy (or unhealthy) value of the foods we buy. A few simple changes, and might end up with a much more effective infographic food label like the one MikePB created:

Infographic Food Label

#10: Research Reports
Research reports might very well fall into the category of least-likely-to-be-read documents. Outside of researchers and academics, who likes to read dense text with a whole bunch of numbers? Sadly, there is great information in most of the research reports created not only for academics and scientists, but for businesses as well. What if every report was accompanied with a research report infographic that summarized the results? That’s exactly what the Special Olympics did with this research report infographic:

Research Report Infographic