We start early looking at books with pictures in them to understand a concept long before we’re aware of what we’re doing. Pictures become symbolic with meaning, and this conceptualization grows into more significance as we get older. We associate symbols with words and instructions, and then we take those learning tools and apply them to things like tables and charts that give us information with hardly any words. It’s an amazing growth transition, but it’s also an expectation in the field of academics.
Scholars need to be able to explain their findings in scientific terminology, broken down into readable text. To supplement their work, infographics are also expected. Infographics take complex data and turn it into something that helps the reader to visualize the concept, usually in a table, chart, or something similar. Embedding tables and figures into your research paper is necessary, but not always easy. If you’re not using the right program or aren’t sure how to adjust your graphic for the numbers and topics you need, it can be stressful! Follow these guidelines to ensure you’re using your infographics to their maximum, optimized capacity.
What Are Infographics?
The term “infographics” is a combination of the two words “information” and “graphics,” and that’s the perfect explanation of what it actually means. These graphics visually represent a piece of information or an amount of data in a way that can be quickly grasped by the reader. Through the use of graphics, people can understand a concept easier and then use it to view patterns or trends that could arise from the data and information shared.
Infographics are continually evolving, with today’s modern tables, graphs, and charts used to expand communication on a global level. Because the audience is less specialized and more generalized, the designer of the graphics and text tends to focus on making sure their visual is able to be understood by an average reader.
Why Are Visuals Important in Academic Text?
Academic texts like research papers and scientific articles are full of information. These submissions can be dozens or even hundreds of pages long, and the content is often complex and comprehensive. When a data concept is important enough to warrant a better understanding, a table or graph can benefit the reader.
The data must be presented in a way that can be easily grasped and is visually appealing. But the information given should be an expansion of the knowledge in the text, not a repetition. The type of infographics you use is determined by the style of writing, such as APA or MLA. If you’re debating whether or not you should use an infographic or text, stick with the guideline that any data that can be explained in two or less sentences should be supplemented with a graphic representation.
How to Embed Tables, Figures, and Other Visuals in Your Research Paper
Embedding any infographic into your paper starts with the right program. You can use Excel and other platforms to design your tables and then insert them into your document, or you can use a program like Impactio, where it’s all done easily because it’s designed for exactly that purpose.
No matter where you choose to create your visuals, there are some guidelines to follow. A table, for instance, needs a legend, a column title, and a body, well structured for comprehension. Tables need a clear title that describes what the reader is seeing and isn’t ambiguous or full of intrigue. The titles can be any length but should match the academic text. However, the column titles should make the information in the table easy to understand should be short. The body of the table should read up to down and contain all your numerical or textual data information.
Figures, on the other hand, have different guidelines. These can be bar graphs, scatterplots, drawings, and many other forms. The choice of which figure to use depends on your judgment of which visual would make your information easiest for the reader to grasp, as well as which one you can put together the most effectively. Figure captions should always be numbered and titled with descriptions that are easily understood, placed under the figure, and left-justified.
If you use an image, make sure it’s easy to understand and can be clearly reproduced. The size and resolution may keep your paper from being accepted by a publisher. The same qualities apply to illustrations.
When you embed your infographic into your paper, always check it over to ensure it transitioned seamlessly without any changes to the text, data, and overall appearance.