Does a picture really paint a thousand words?

The importance of infographics, patient images and visuals in communications

Infographics, images, and visuals alongside communications of all types have become de rigueur. From the packaging on your smoothie carton, to the evening news, visuals in comms are everywhere. Rarely is a plain block of text the more inspiring or comprehensible way to convey information.

Data journalism is a lone thriving sapling in the industry, owing to the data boom of the digital era, and developments in data-viz software. Visually represented information can accompany the copy, or at times, the infographic is the copy (e.g. the New York Times’ interactive election voting map).

Brilliant and inspiring use of infographics and other visuals can be found everywhere. But even… cookery books?

The food writing industry is losing little steam. Pictureless pocket-sized cookery books with succinct recipes are out. Big, beautiful luxurious culinary tomes are in. And within them, innovative ways to convey information.

Take Samin Nosrat’s book: Salt Fat Acid Heat (and the brilliant Netflix programme that accompanies). It’s not just a book of recipes, but also a guide to theory of cookery. Understand the principles of flavour, and some of the chemistry behind it, and the reader is (theoretically) left empowered and independent in the kitchen. If anything, recipes serve to illustrate the lessons conveyed in infographics and visual imagery.

The infographics brightly coloured, and hand drawn. They’re appealing, unintimidating, personal, and warm. There are fold out pages depicting the flavours of the world in vivid wheels.

Cooking 2

Recipes for basic techniques, such as meat braising, or a classic Caesar salad are hand-drawn, with visual indicators for each step of the cooking process illustrated.

Cooking 1

Claire Saffitz, New York based pastry cook and food writer, includes a “recipe matrix” at the end of her 2021 recipe book— a chart that tells you what to cook based on time available and desired difficulty.

Cooking 3

In both cookbooks, information that could be set out in an uninspiring wall of copy is rendered engaging and memorable.

Out of the frying pot, and onto Instagram.

Social media is a great place to look for innovative use of infographics and other visuals. Instagram and other social media posts must be clear and engaging enough to somehow capture the fickle attention of a scroller.

Here’s an educational infographic from Eve Appeal, the charity who raise awareness for gynecologically cancers.

The colour scheme is attention-grabbing, the copy is concise and clear, while the roller-coaster theme is playful without patronising the audience.

Cooking 4

So, how do we use visuals at RubyDuke?

For us at RubyDuke, we’re often aiming at an audience that is well versed with digesting scientific information. But why pass up the opportunity to simplify and speed up the reading process? This is where visuals come in.

Sometimes a patient photograph alongside the copy is enough to drive home the human angle. The photograph or infographic helps the reader to view the hypothetical patient as an individual, rather than a statistic. The science must be sound, but after all, like all copywriting, we’re aiming at a human audience.

On the flip side, we often need to find ways to convey complex scientific information to patients. Charts, images, and other visuals can go a long way to boost patient understanding and health literacy more widely, where the stakes are high.

In all, photographs and effective infographics allow for streamlined and concise copy. When brevity is a virtue, we can tell at least some of the story with a well-chosen image.

If you want to see more of what we do with infographics and visuals in copy, get in touch!

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