Visual Communications Myths Activity

From the “understandingraphics.com” website:

Myth #1: People spend more time reading when type is large.

Myth #3: Realism is best when you’re explaining things.

Myth #5: People are generally aware of typeface. 

Consider the infographics we have looked at so far and how they have or have not considered these myths.  Find three example infographics where the size of the type, the typeface or the use of realism either helped to make the infographic effective or interfered with its effectiveness.  How might these myths help toward determining our class “effective infographics” rubric?


9 Responses to "Visual Communications Myths Activity"

  • Myth #1: We chose the who office one because although the graph has large font it does nothing to make the graph easier to understand. It IS easrier to read but it does nothing for interpreting an analysis.

    Myth 3: We chose the my plate because a even though the inforgraph is a realistic approach (an actual dinner plate) it is misleading. The graph shows what seems like over 100%, so even though the realistic example is appealing to the eye it to does not explain the information flawlessly.

    Myth 5: We chose the wrestling infographic because although the information is clustered is matches. .

    1 Claudia Autore said this (October 24, 2011 at 7:49 pm)


  • Myth 1 says people will spend more time reading large text rather than small text. The “Are You Happy” flowchart uses large text to attract a viewer’s attention, then allows them to follow the flowchart using smaller type, as the graphic already has their attention.

    Myth 3 says realism is good to use for explanation. The “How To Make The First Move” uses realism to relate how effective a first move on someone can be to a stalker-versus-normal gradient, relating it to real life.

    Myth 5 says people are usually aware of typefaces, meaning they realize that they can convey the tone and/or mood of a graphic. The “So You Need A Typeface” flowchart overly portrays many different types of fonts, which makes it ineffective and hard to follow.

    2 aelindeman said this (October 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm)


  • Myth #1:
    For the first myth, we chose the “Camera’s on Flicker” graph. We found the myth to be untrue in this case because the presence of the bigger font makes it so that the reader only reads the large font and not the small font that further described the graph.

    Myth #3:
    For the third myth, we chose the “My Plate” graph. The myth is true in this case because the “realism” of the graph makes it much less effective. Even though the graph looks like a plate and cup, which was intended to help the reader understand it better, it is difficult to understand the exact amounts of each food that should be eaten and their real comparison to each other.

    Myth #5:
    For this myth, we chose the “Hierarchy of Distractions” graph. In this graph, the myth is true because the font does make a difference in how the graph is perceived. The font of the words puts emphasis on different distractions that do not need to be emphasized. This causes us to think words such as “Landline” are more important to the graph, when really they are just as important as the other words on the graph.

    3 Heather Kennedy said this (October 24, 2011 at 1:28 am)


  • “If Extraterrestrials are monitoring our TV broadcasts, then this is what they are currently watching”

    This is an example of Myth #1. Apparently, the text can be more engaging to the reader if presented in a smaller type. Personally, I feel like this chart is in a bad position to prove this true. The type is so small and compact that I find it to be highly distracting. At first it was interesting to decipher the text near the bottom, but by about a 1/3 of the way up I was merely skimming. As for our class rubric, we would need to keep in mind that type does not need to be in screaming caps and bold letters, but too much small text is just as ineffective.

    “Pink Floyd 1960-2000”

    This is an example of Myth #3. This assertion claims that realism is not necessarily the best method to explain topics. Granted, graphs that think outside the box, like the one to the right, are visually pleasing and engaging, but may sacrifice clarity in the process. However, I find this timeline to be engaging enough to counteract the extra time needed to trace the band members path through history. It was in fact the visual appeal of this graph that led me to it in the first place, making the lack of realism a completely valid assertion. So, when we compose our rubric we would need to remember that the more interesting an infographic appears, the more likely a person will spend the time to read it.

    “How would you like your graphic design?”

    This is an example of Myth #5, which states that people are unconsciously aware of the importance of typeface. I would agree with this statement in looking at the graph to the left. When I stop to think about it, for this particular chart a bolded, sans-serif font fits perfectly. The Sans-serif blocked letters provide a stark, straightforward look that complements the purpose of the graph perfectly. I feel like a serif font would have been too distracting in this instance, whereas the sans-serif draws the eye easily and quickly across the chart. So, I’d say that the unconscious recognition of appropriate typeface is most certainly a factor to consider in the rubric if we wish to create an effective infographic.

    4 Joe Midolo said this (October 23, 2011 at 11:22 pm)


  • Myth one is corrected in the infographic “Fork it Over” where there are two different captions, one with a large font and another in fine print. The reader will tend to skim over the large font caption and shift their vision to the fine print to understand the details of the graphic. The fine print font is so small that it forces the audience to concentrate in order to read it.
    “Swine Flu Sept 09” is an example of myth three because a realistic image of the earth is used to show the top numbers of confirmed lab cases. Realism is being used here, but it is not necessarily the best way to explain the information. There is no significance in showing where the top countries are located because many people could understand just as easily if the info was presented in a bar chart or data table.
    Myth five, people are generally aware of typeface, could be represented in the infographic “About Adobe & Apple.” The captions and bar graphs are straightforward and the way the graphic is designed is similar to the information displayed. Finances of the companies are a quantitative value and the graphic presents it using quantitative tools.

    5 Mo Sunderland said this (October 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm)


  • We chose to do the first myth, “People spend more time reading when type is large”. The first infographic we chose to do “Sample”. In this the typing is very large but people might not understand that it has to do with statistics because they need to read everything in it besides just the bigger words.
    The next one we decided to do was “wrestler names”. In this infographic the bigger words in the bubbles don’t really matter. The actual names are in the very small print. These bigger words take away from the infographic.
    The final infographic we chose was “THe Hierarchy of Digital Distractions”. In this graph the names of the certain companies take away from the smaller print which describes why they are on the certain point of the pyramid. Without reading the smaller print makes this graph impossible to understand.

    6 dberman said this (October 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm)


  • We chose to represent the first myth “People spend more time reading when type is large” by relating it to the “Where” infographic. In this graphic the word “Where” is typed in big red bold letters at the top of the page which is the first thing that will attract readers attention but to fully understand the graphic readers need to take their time and read the smaller print to interpret it.
    We signified the second myth “Realism is best when your explaining things” with the “swine flu” graphic to show this generalization of realism could be improved by specifying cities had the major outbreaks of swine flu instead of highlighting the whole country. Although the graphic has a good color contrast and it is easy to quickly perceive where the major areas are at first glance.
    The last graphic we chose was “fruit,” is a good representation of realism because it uses simple pictures and diagrams to show how making drinks works, as opposed to making the graphic very technical and showing a complicated step-by-step process of how to make these fruit drinks.

    7 kshavala said this (October 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm)


  • For the first myth it states, people spend more time reading when the type is larger. In order to show the contradiction of this observation we chose to look at the Top Cameras on Flickr graphic. This graphic has title in a larger font than the rest of the graphic, but I don’t find myself reading more I find myself assuming that I can get all the information I need from the large text, when in fact there is much more information in the smaller text directly underneath the large title.
    The second myth deals with the depiction of a graph as realistically as possible. For this we chose to look at the Fork It Over graphic. It does look aesthetically pleasing, but the actual shapes of the forks don’t present the data in any way that is more effective than 2 simple bar graphs. I understand that interest is half the battle with a graphic, people need to be drawn into your graphic. I just don’t think effectiveness should be traded for design.
    Finally, the last myth, people are generally aware of typeface. To demonstrate a lack of typeface diversity we chose to look at the Hipster Fashion Cycle graphic. The title is a larger size, but not a different typeface. This makes for a mundane looking graphic that doesn’t really draw your eye anywhere. If there was a little bit more contrast a flow of the graph might develop and make the graph that much more interesting.

    8 kgorslin said this (October 23, 2011 at 4:34 pm)


  • Myth #1 states that people spend more time reading large font as opposed to small type. However, “The Top Cameras on Flickr (from the “Families of Graphs” activity)” does an excellent job of utilizing the difference in font size to emphasize important phrases. The title and legend heading are both large and bold, immediately drawing the reader to look there first to quickly understand the graphic. Their smaller details, explaining the graph more thoroughly are printed much smaller, so that the reader is cued to read more closely for complete comprehension.
    Myth #3 claims that realism is best when things are being explained. A counter-example to that statement is the fruit soda production timeline (also from the “Families of Graphs” activity), which uses a simplified, graphic process to explain an extremely complex system. The steps are streamlined into almost juvenile characterizations instead of actual photos or unnecessary professional or industrial details so that the process is able to be understood by a general audience.
    Myth #5 proposes that people are only generally aware of specific typefaces. In the “Where is Everyone?” graphic (from the “Two Stories” activity), the typeface chosen appropriately matches the level of seriousness of graphic, while still remaining legible. The graphic conveys the change over time of proportions of people participating in various forms of media, an interesting, current social topic. To accentuate a generally interesting image, the creators chose a clear, but not uptight or overly formal font.

    9 Brooke Andrews said this (October 23, 2011 at 11:49 am)



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