Monday 7 January 2013

Geek List for Writers : How to Create Infographics

By Candy Gourlay

Desperate to market yourself but don't know where to start? Your prayers have been answered. Welcome to our new occasional series featuring geeky tips for the hapless writer trying to make an impact in a big, bad, distracted world. 

Dear Reader, you might have noticed these past year that infographics have risen in popularity.

Or maybe not, if like me you spend a lot of time locked in the Writing Cave. Maybe you don't have any idea of what I'm talking about.

Infographics are visualizations of data ... you can look at examples in this Pinterest extravaganza of infographics for writers (although I can't see what's writerly about some of them):

Click on the image to see the Pinterest page. But please come back!

If you have a blog, a website promoting you and your books, or any of social media account, an infographic is a cool way to share information or put across a point in a way that followers can easily share on facebook, twitter, or other forms of social media.

How to Use Infographics

Here are a few examples of how you can use infographics to raise awareness about your books:
  • Story Guide - For students, teachers and other educators: create an infographic of plot points and characters.

  • Biography - create an infographic about you

  • How To - make a guide to doing something

  • Timeline - the historical backdrop to your book
I could go on and on but I'm sure this has already sparked plenty of ideas!

How to create Infographics

Looking at some brilliant infographics, you could be forgiven for thinking that you would need extreme design skills, or expensive software.

Well, maybe you do.

But there are many tools you can access to create your infographics - check out these links to start with:

A DIY Solution to Infographics

If the free tools and Piktochart look daunting (or expensive) ... or maybe you're in too much of a hurry to experiment with them, may I share a recent discovery of an easy (ish) way to create infographics ... POWERPOINT.

Yup, the presentation software everyone loves to hate.

Powerpoint allows you to generate not just slideshows but documents to a custom size. The Powerpoint interface makes it easy to add text, images and shapes, format them adding effects like shadows and borders and glows, as well as drag them around on a page. After you've designed it, you need only save it to the format you need for sharing. I bet other presentation software probably can do the same - if you use other slideshow software, do let me know!

And here's an infographic I created using Powerpoint, on how to create infographics using Powerpoint!

Some issues (Hmm)

*You do have to make sure your design is readable once embedded - I only just got away with the sizing of my fonts here. I could re-do it but I'm tired now.

*When I saved my powerpoint slide as a pdf, I had to make sure that the pdf was saved in the custom  size I had set. File > Save As > Select Format 'PDF' ... Before clicking 'Save' click on the Options button (see screenshot below, options is bottom left)

Options gives you the chance to make sure that the width and height matches the custom size you set, in my case, in fact the infographic above is a bit bigger than the mentioned 26cm, I set it at 36 cm x 45 cm. This is what the Options window looked like on my Mac.

These will look slightly different, depending on the age, version and operating system your computer is using.

*More issues you might run into: 

  • A slow computer, low memory might make saving image files difficult. I'm not sure a netbook could cope!
  • I did have to play around with the size of my Powerpoint file before I settled on this 36cm width - and I don't think it's the optimal size yet. I will continue to experiment but if some Powerpoint guru could give advice about size and output, would appreciate it.
  • Not all software can convert a pdf to a png or jpg. One way way to convert anything to an image is to take a screenshot! (The cool thing about screen shots is they are already low res so quick to upload)
  • You can share the pdf itself. 

Do you have any great, geeky ideas that a poor benighted author can use? Get in touch and let us know. 

With thanks to The Noun Project for the free icon that we adapted for our Geek List logo.


  1. That infographic was meta, but I'm wondering if the same thing can be made with Google Drive.

    1. I don't think Google Drive has a building interface? Or have I missed something? Google public data however builds interesting visualizations of boring figures.

  2. Maybe an idea, can Candy do a tutorial on how to do a home-video to promote a book? What kind of things does she think about and prepare for? Especially for people like me who dont have readymade access to kids and are very shy?

    1. That's definitely in the list Chitra!

    2. After you and Chitra had a fb chat about power point I had a go with Open Office's version and embedded a slideshow on the funEverse weebly site It only has two poems on cos it's a test but it was very easy to do. I'd forgotten all about pp.

    3. I've always pooh poohed PP and used expensive professional design software. Then I noticed that my web design clients found it easier to explain their requirements to me by using PP's graphic tools. In fact it's faster and easier than some software! When I'm in a rush I design on PP. You can even make logos, flyers and posters!

  3. On the subject of sharing:it's important to ensure that your graphic can be shared independently of your blog. Clear title that says what it is ... and make sure it's got your name and website url on it.

  4. Chitra, you don't need to have any kids or talk to camera. There are other styles. I've made book trailers that even a shy person would be able to cope with, such as those for Mary Hoffman's City of Swords and Dianne Hofmeyr's Oliver Strange.

    Brilliant idea for a series, Candy!

    1. If you feel like guest blogging, just say the word, Stroppy!

  5. Thanks, Candy. I like Microsoft Visio for this kind of thing - it's much more precise and it auto-sizes the drawing as you work. Great if you're a bit flowchart mad like me! The only downside is that (AFAIK) it isn't included with the standard version of MS Office and you need to buy it as an add-on.


Comments are the heart and soul of the Slushpile community, thank you! We may periodically turn on comments approval when trolls appear.

Share buttons bottom