When it comes to infographics, many marketers focus exclusively on the design. After all, it’s what grabs the viewers’ attention, right?
That’s true, but if you don’t nail the infographic copy, you’ll lose your viewers’ attention fast. The copy provides context and narrative for the reader, effectively tying together the story you’re attempting to tell.
Explore the following eight tips for writing infographic copy that you won’t want to ignore.
Let the Design Guide You
Image via Flickr by Andrew Turner
As I mentioned above, infographics first command attention because of their design. The best copy in the world won’t elevate a poorly designed infographic to a potentially viral sensation. You need a design that fits the topic, audience, and brand.
Once you have the main design elements in place, craft copy that fits its tone and narrative progression. For example, if you’re creating an entertaining infographic with a slightly irreverent tone, you’ll want your copy to include elements of humor.
Additionally, the infographic’s design will tell you how much room you have for copy. Some infographics are spread out, while others are denser.
Start With a Compelling Headline
The headline is arguably the most important element of an infographic. It’s the first element a viewer sees, whether he or she encounters the infographic in a link from Facebook or complete on your website.
The headline can be plain, clever, or funny depending on the subject. However, you don’t want to craft a headline that’s too vague. Give the viewer a hint about what the rest of the infographic will offer. Ideally, the headline will give your infographic more visibility on the web.
Blog headlines can work just as well for infographics, especially if you’re using the infographic to inform your audience. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the formulas, though. Let your creativity run wild.
Introduce the Subject
Many infographics offer a brief introduction. Think of it as an extension of your headline rather than a separate entity. In other words, build on your headline’s promise to keep viewers immersed in the narrative.
Remember that infographic copy shouldn’t overwhelm the design. At best, it should complement the visual elements to provide context. If your introduction runs more than 200 words, start editing. Remove any unnecessary words and phrases to edit it down.
Label Graphs and Graphics Clearly
Infographic copy should help explain data in a useful but entertaining way. You don’t have to write copy in full sentences — in fact, it’s best if you don’t. Give sufficient context to help the viewer understand the story that you’re telling.
For example, let’s say the designer has created a pie chart. You could put the percentages in each segment of the pie. Underneath, use colors or other visual cues to explain what each percentage means.
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Tie Together the Narrative
In addition to data visualization explanations, introductions, and headlines, infographics should also feature subheadings. In some cases, you’ll also need to add infographic copy to further explain the subheadings.
Think of these subheadings as the chapters in a book. Each new chapter should immerse the reader in the story and compel him or her to continue reading. If you tie together the narrative correctly, readers will want to know how the story ends.
In other words, you’re guiding readers toward the infographic’s conclusion.
In these sections, infographic copy should be succinct and evocative. Keep subheadings and explanations to no more than 100 words. Otherwise, you risk losing readers by drowning them in too much copy.
Use Strong Verbs
You can divide verbs into two categories: strong and weak. A strong verb is usually unique, perfect for the surrounding copy, evocative, and compelling. It urges the reader forward by indicating that you have something important to say.
Weak verbs, which are also sometimes called “being” verbs, don’t captivate your audience. Words such as is, are, was, would, do, and had have a place in copy, but use them only when you can’t replace them with stronger verbs.
For example, consider the word “went.” Maybe your sentence starts by saying: “The people went to the store.”
That wording is not very compelling. However, you could spice up the text by replacing “went” with a stronger verb:
- The people dashed to the store.
- The people skipped to the store.
- The people darted to the store.
- The people slogged to the store.
- The people trudged to the store.
The first three examples suggest that “the people” went quickly to the store, but described the action in a more compelling way. The last three examples convey the opposite: The people went slowly or unwillingly to the store.
Leave Room for Negative Space
Creating great infographic copy doesn’t simply revolve around the words themselves. They also need to fit in the design with plenty of negative space. Also called white space, negative space is the area around infographic elements.
You don’t want to squash together every element. The infographic becomes too busy and difficult to follow.
When you’re writing infographic copy, consider how it will fit into the design. Where will the line breaks go? What size font will you use in the design?
Make Data Interesting
Data on its own is boring. I think we can all agree on this point. But, through compelling infographic copy, you can transform boring data into numbers that tell a story. Often, this process revolves around context.
Go back to the headline or title and the introduction. What story did you set up for the reader? What point do you want people to take home from the infographic?
Use copy to explain why the data matters. If your reader understands why he or she should care, the infographic becomes more successful.
Infographics are all the rage now. They’re also tough to get right. You can outsource the design and infographic copy to an experienced team, such as the CopyPress creatives, if you’re not sure where to start. Either way, think about the copy before you publish your infographic.