Tools and tricks to get your graphics on

By Kara Tabor

Courtesy of Flickr user Intel Free Press
As technology continues to progress at an exponential rate, more and more data is generated in
society. This means that it is increasingly vital for us as journalists learn how to process it and make productive use of it for the public good.

At ONA Mizzou, we have proclaimed this week to be Graphics Week, I present you with a brief rundown of some tools and sources of inspiration for journalists looking to transform data into readable, appealing and informative graphics:


Infoactive is an online tool that lets the user make responsive infographics and data visualizations from data sets saved in CSV files and Google Spreadsheets. Created by 2013-2014 RJI Fellow Trina Chiasson, the tool's all-in-one features eliminate the need for Illustrator and the finish product can be embedding into your webpage. In addition, the graphics generated can be viewed on desktop, tablet and mobile.

Mapping with tools like Google Fusion Tables

For those looking to cleanly display in map format, one method is using Google Fusion tables to do the job. Last year Missouri School of Journalism Assistant Professor Dave Herzog led an ONA Mizzou tutorial on Interactive Mapping for Journalists. In his tutorial, he explained how different mapping tools, such as Google Maps, can be easily used for making data visualizations.


A product of Northwestern's Knight Lab, Timeline.js makes crafting professional-grade timelines a breeze with interactive features and the ability to insert text, photos, videos, Google Maps and link previews. Using the template and a Google Spreadsheet, you can create a basic timeline that can be embedded into your site.

Making graphics work on mobile

With increasing numbers of users using their smartphones to consumer their news, creating graphics and visualizations that are viewable on mobile devices is a must. is a community-generated collection of mobile-optimized graphics. The site also features a list of patterns & best practices for ensuring graphics are up to par for mobile viewing.

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