6 Mistakes Ruining Your Charts and Infographics

By Marcia Riefer Johnston


Want some tips guaranteed to result in bad charts?

Of course you don’t. Yet sometimes we learn best from things gone wrong. That’s why, in this article, I offer some of Content Marketing World speaker Scott Berinato’s advice flipped on its head.

Scott shared great tips on how to get data visualization right in his talk, Data Visualization and Creating Good Charts. I’m pointing out how, if you’re not following his advice, you’re surely confusing, boring, and bothering your audiences.

A word about words: When Scott says “chart” or “graph” or “data visualization” or “dataviz” or “information visualization” or “infoviz” or “information graphic” or “infographic,” he refers broadly to the visual communication of data. I’m using the terms “chart” and “infographics” in this same broad way.

You tell without showing

Let’s start with the ultimate bad chart: no chart where one is needed.

Take a note from this fictitious example from Scott. Which version of these directions (left or right) do you prefer? Too easy, I know. If you’re creating directions with text only, you’re guaranteeing maximum inscrutability.


The same problem arises when you describe the significance of numbers with a wall of words. Check out how the paragraphs on the left force you to dig to discover whose fortunes went up in 2015 – something that the chart makes obvious.


Omitting images wallops people with the worst possible information experience. Don’t make words do all the work; showing is more powerful than telling when it comes to directions and data trends.

Don’t make words do all the work. Use visuals for directions and data trends, says @scottberinato.
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