Why Are So Many Infographics Impossible to Read?



Question: Can someone tell me how to get these cool looking infographics into a really useable format?

Something that can be resized to be more readable online and/or something that can be printed in a readable format for offline sharing? I’m clicking on this Pinterest link and the image, while attractive and eye catching, simply can’t be read. It’s not just this one. So what really is the point of an infographic?

Answer: That’s a great question!

Infographics, like any image, are limited by the forward thinking of their creator. In the case of the link you found online, the blog post creator used a very low resolution graphic. This is referred to as “DPI” meaning how many dots of information there are per inch of the image size. Dots Per Inch: DPI.

You might have seen some futuristic shows *cough*CSI I’m looking at you *cough* where someone finds a blurry image and shouts “Zoom in and Enhance!” and suddenly a blurry image gets big and clears up to a crystal sharp image.

It’s totally science fiction I’m sorry to say.

Imagine an empty plate with 10 peas on it. These represent 10 DPI: 10 dots of information.

No matter how much you spread them apart or push them into a pile, there are still only ten peas. All you change is how much empty space there is between the peas. If there isn’t enough DPI information, the image is just going to look blurry because there isn’t additional digital information for the computer to translate.*

Now, a savvy infographic creator and blog writer will offer a high resolution version of the graphic or a PDF printable version. Unfortunately the Pinterest link you posted is a blog from 2012 reposting the image of someone else’s infographic (Flowtown made the graphic originally). Worse, the link that attributes to that infographic is dead, leading to nowhere.

In cases like this I wonder if the blogger had permission to use the image because of how low resolution it is. Given that information I suspect the infographic was stolen and used without permission because Flowtown surely has a higher resolution (ie: much more easily read) version of the graphic.

Infographics are great and are legible; it’s just that many people improperly share lower resolution, unreadable versions.

After a bit of Google searching I found out that Flowtown is now called Visually, which is why the old link from 2012 in that blog doesn’t take you to the high resolution version of the infographic.  Check out this link to find it: http://visual.ly/small-business-social-media-cheat-sheet

Chances are when you find infographics you can’t read it’s because they were taken from their original sources and don’t have the high-resolution version. A tip for finding the high resolution is to google the name of the infographic and set your advanced search image filter to “Large Image” only so you’ll find a high resolution, large image that you can read.

A disclaimer: Often people will repost infographics with attribution. I can’t say if this is legal or not. It depends on the infographic’s creator and what they will allow (or even realize) is being done with their image.

Hope that helps!


*Some baseline understanding of DPI: an image on your monitor is showing at 72 DPI while a standard image of the same size when printed needs 300 DPI. This is why online images seem so blurry or tiny when you print them. It’s also why a print-ready file is so much bigger in file size than a web graphic. When in doubt, the bigger a file size, the better for printing! Print images tend to be 1-10 MB in size while web graphics tend to be 40-500 KB in size (over 1000 times smaller!).  And we all understand why they’re smaller… Yep! Because they have fewer peas on their plate – er I mean fewer DPI.

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