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Nayomi Chibana

Written by: Nayomi Chibana

February 8, 2016

How to Select and Use the Right Icons for Your Infographics

choosing the right icons for infographics

It’s no news that we live in an increasingly visual age. Images and symbols are taking the place of words–to the point that some believe words are becoming a thing of the past.

True or not, visual communication is here to stay. Just look at how social media images have transformed our once strictly verbal communication.

Instead of texting your friend about your scrumptious meal, you simply send him a picture of it:

27DA0B1400000578-3050116-Taking_a_good_food_picture_for_Instagram_requires_thought_planni-a-12_1430212889456

Or, instead of texting your family that you can’t wait to see them, you send them a bitmoji, which is an emoji version of yourself exhibiting the emotion you’re feeling:

bitmoji-keyboard-app

You can put these same visual communication rules to good use when you create your own viral infographics. Knowing how to select and use just the right icons in your infographics can make the difference between a long and wordy visual and an impactful and engaging one.

To help you use less words and more visuals in your infographics, we’ve put together this list of helpful tips on how to select the right icons for your infographics and included examples created with Visme icons. These can all be applied right within this online infographic software, which gives you access to more than 3,000 free vector icons.

 

1 Replace names and titles with icons

Instead of typing out each of the names in a list or chart, you can use icons instead. For example, in the list below of the number of calories per serving of each type of food, we used icons instead of titles.

slide1

Visme’s selection of icons includes symbols of food and physical activities.

 

2 Use icons in graphs and charts

Instead of using words and legends to label the different columns or bars in a chart, you can use icons to communicate the same concept.

In the example below, we use icons of the major social media networks instead of their names to label each column.

slide2

Find these social media icons within Visme.

 

3 Use icons to communicate a theme

Rather than use up valuable real estate space in your infographic header by writing out long paragraphs, why not use icons to develop a theme instead?

For example, in the header below, we could have explained with words that the purpose of this infographic is to detail different that consume the most electricity. Instead, we resorted to icons to do the talking for us.

slide3

Visme’s icons of electrical appliances

 

4 Use icons in lists

Replace the numbers or bullet points in your lists with icons to communicate more effectively. For example, instead of writing out the steps to grow an online business in a text-based list format, you can use icons, as seen below:

slide1

FInd thousands of marketing and business-related icons in Visme’s library

 

5 Use icons in headers

You can also use icons in your headers to illustrate the main concept of your infographic. For example, in this header for an infographic about how to fund your startup, you could use icons that allude either literally or metaphorically to the concept of growth, as seen below.

slide5

Visme offers hundreds of icons related to entrepreneurship.

 

6 Use icons in the background

Icons can also be used in the background of a header or section of your infographic. For example, in the header below, we decided to use different chart icons to illustrate the main theme.

slide1

Use icons in the background to add visual interest to your headers

 

7 Customize images with icons

The design capabilities Visme offers users also allow them to create customized images using icons. For example, if you need to visualize a speech bubble, you can add an icon of the shape and then add text or other elements.

slide1 2

Use icons in creative ways to explain a process

 

8 Stick with one icon style

In order to ensure design consistency and an overall clean and professional look, make sure to stick to one icon style throughout your infographic.

For example, if you choose an outline style, then stick to that. Or, if you stick to an icon with a flat design, then only use that type.

slide1 3

Visme offers different icon styles: outline, flat UI and glyph

 

9 Pair icons with fonts

Another way to ensure a harmonious design is to pair icons with the right kinds of fonts. For example, if you’re using a clean and no-nonsense-looking font in your design, don’t make the mistake of matching it with a fun, humorous-looking icon.

Instead, determine the style and tone you’re going for and choose your fonts and icons accordingly. In the example below, you can see the difference between the type of icons and the content they’re best suited for.

slide1 5

There are a variety of icon styles for your design needs

 

10 Pair icons with a color palette

Finally, always try to match your infographic’s color scheme with your icon’s color palette. If you’re using bright, vivid colors for the rest of your infographic, then you shouldn’t use dark, muted colors for your icons.

In the example below, you can see how an icon’s color scheme can be extracted and applied elsewhere in your infographic.

project-01

Each of the colors in your icon’s palette can be changed within Visme

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About the Author

Nayomi Chibana is a journalist and writer for Visme’s Visual Learning Center. Besides researching trends in visual communication and next-generation storytelling, she’s passionate about data-driven content.

4 responses to “How to Select and Use the Right Icons for Your Infographics”

  1. Christopher says:

    This article gave me a lot of information that I already knew but for some novice designers out there it could be the crucial turning point on a lot of small projects. Creating something that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye but also makes things easier for the reader to understand is always a best practice when designing any piece of media that has graphics in them. You do a very good job of researching the information here in finding the best good practices pertaining to icons. I appreciate you spending the time to do this as I will pass it on to my classmates.

  2. […] a previous post, we discussed how to properly use icons in your projects to achieve a cohesive design theme and style. In this post, we introduce 150+ new vector icons […]

  3. […] the same icon styles and fonts throughout. You can consult our quick tips on pairing fonts and choosing icons for further […]

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