Written by Giulio Sabbati and Eulalia Claros
How much information can you write in one or two pages? Would you use a graph or a chart to make your message clearer? How many words do you need to express a single message? What about using a map instead of having a simple table? Can we make a document more appealing? Well, they say that a picture paints a thousand words. That’s why we developed a series of publications to answer these questions, EPRS Infographics.
But, what exactly is an infographic?
EPRS infographics cover a subject in no more than a couple of pages. Usually they are stand-alone publications, but infographic elements can also be part of other publications. We could define infographics as an artistic presentation of statistical data, but this would be reductive. Infographics use a range of different elements (graphs, pictures, maps, tables, timelines, and others), to present all the aspects of an issue. They cover one selected EU policy topic, with visualisation of statistics from different sources. In line with the EPRS mission, they are designed to give a neutral presentation of data that should allow the reader to arrive at their own conclusions.
The ‘at a glance’ nature of the infographics makes them ideal for Members of the European Parliament to use to illustrate their arguments or for a quick overview when preparing for a meeting. Infographics, in principle, are meant to be useful support for Members when making speeches, discussing the issues in plenary, preparing a legislative proposal or engaging in many other sorts of discussions. We are pleased to note that not only Members use our infographics, but also other institutions, services and interested parties.
Generally, an infographic is structured on two pages: the first contains the graphical elements used to represent the data/information. The second provides text to explain in detail how the graphs should be read, for instance, why certain data or indicators are included, or the source of the data, or it provides context to the presented figures. Such explanatory text ensures that everyone feels comfortable in reading the graphic elements and reduces the possibility of misinterpretation.
When creating an infographic there are different steps to go through. The selection of the topic based on the availability of data. The analysis and interpretation of the data. The first mock-up when we decide how to present the data in an easy way to understand. And the final lay-out of the infographic.
While all of these steps are important, the data analysis and the mock-up represent the core of the infographic. We believe that a nice infographic is such, not only if the elements on it look good, but mostly because the data are well selected, well analysed, well interpreted and are presented in a way everybody can understand.
EPRS has published around thirty infographics since November 2013, on various topics, at a rate of three infographics every two months.
Our infographics cover a range of topics:
- Electoral situation in the Member States
- Turnout in the last European Parliament elections
- Women in parliaments
- The European Parliament in figures
- Youth unemployment
- Energy supply in the EU
- The political groups in the European Parliament
- Roaming charges in the EU
- EU budget
- Cost of non- Europe in Transport
- Maternity leave
- Women and education in the EU
- Organic food
- The benefits of European water legislation
- A series for the European Year of Development (in collaboration with DG Expo).
Tell us what you think and why not share your favourite infographics with us.