Maarten Lambrechts’ list of 2017 visualization lists

Here is an extremely useful resource for anyone interested in graphics and data visualization. Maarten Lambrechts is a data journalist, designer and visualization consultant from Belgium. He creates great visualizations and is a speaker and instructor (check out his free data journalism training videos in

He has compiled a List of 2017 data visualization lists, which links to the best work created in 2017 by many of the newspapers and organizations that are doing the best graphics. It’s great to see the work of the NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Reuters, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, and many others in one place. Luckily, more and more news organizations are presenting these compilations at the end of each year. They involve a lot of effort and quality journalism, and its great to discover those we missed when they were first published.

The list also includes examples made with tools like Tableau and Carto, charts from the World Bank, satellite imagery and a wonderful compilation of the best illustration published by The New York Times in 2017.

Thank you Marteen. Make sure to visit his site!


Working with UNICEF USA

In the last year we have been working on multiple projects with UNICEF USA, including maps, graphics, style guides and reports. We recently worked on the infographics and charts for the 2017 Annual Report, as well as the Annual Report for UNICEF Kid Power. With a UNICEF Kid Power app or wrist band, kids transform their physical activity into lifesaving nutrition that UNICEF delivers to severely malnourished children around the world. (the UNICEF Kid Power Band was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ‘Best Inventions’ of 2016).

As we did in the 2016 Annual Report, we worked under the creative direction of UNICEF’s Anna Christian to create a series of simple, bold data and information visual summaries.

UNICEF USA helps save and protect the world’s most vulnerable children. Rated one of the best charities to donate to, 90% of every dollar spent goes directly to help children. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a United Nations programme that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.


FAQ: Our Infographics and Data Visualization workshop

UPDATE: TAKE 20% OFF the registration (only until January 11). Enter the code 5WNYC at registration to apply the discount.

Our next infographics and Data Visualization workshop will take place in New York City on January 22-23, and it’s still open for registration. We are often asked about the content of the workshop (see a complete schedule by clicking on the “schedule” tab), whether participants need previous experience, and a few other things. Here are some quick answers:

  • What will I learn?

You keep hearing about the power of infographics and data visualization, and wonder how you can use them with your content. The purpose of our 2-day workshop is to explain the principles and practical guidelines that will enable you to create powerful visual stories that illuminate concepts for your readers. And to practice them hands-on. The workshop is not about designing pretty decorative presentations but rather about discovering insightful stories hidden behind your text and data, and telling relevant stories with them with high visual impact and accuracy.

Infographics and data visualization are broad fields and we’ll cover all the most important aspects to give you the whole picture:

  • Finding the visual potential hidden in written reports
  • The Do’s and Dont’s of accurately plotting numbers and statistics
  • Telling stories with maps: types and uses of geographic and thematic cartography
  • Sketching and planning explanatory diagrams
  • Design principles: hierarchy, color, type, narrative flow and page integration
  • Storyboarding efficient motion graphics
  • Key concepts in interactive data visualization on the web, including mobile
  • Overview of tools and available resources
  • Who should attend?

Anyone interested in knowing how infographics and data visualization can help transform their stories to make them engaging and insightful through the use of images, maps and data. Graphics designers, journalists, editors, researchers, marketing specialists; professionals of NGOs, Government, Finance, PR working in public outreach to explain initiatives and programs, or seeking to improve the efficiency and creativity of their internal or external communications.

  • Is it theory or practice?

The workshop is a mix that includes presentations on all the different aspects of infographics/dataviz, discussion, and group practice. There will be short exercises scattered throughout the workshop, and a larger project where groups will put together detailed sketches for a large infographic containing multiple elements.

Throughout the exercise the participants will experience the entire workflow of a typical infographic:

  • Brainstorming for editorial and presentations ideas
  • Data collection
  • Making visual choices
  • Designing an effective narrative
  • Putting it all together and making final choices on editing and presentation.

On the first day, the goal of the group exercise will be creating a sketch for print or online static infographic/dataviz. On the second day, we’ll take the same topic to re-think and re-design it as a motion graphic (by creating a storyboard), or as an interactive data visualization (working on structure, navigation, layering and interactivity). The interactions during exercises get really animated and fun.


  • Who are you and what are your credentials?

We have created and published several thousand infographics/data visualizations over our careers, mostly in journalism where rigorous accuracy and clarity are paramount. We (Juan and Samuel Velasco) founded 5w Infographics in 2001. 5w Infographics is an award-winning design and consulting company that specializes in information-driven projects. Today, we have offices in New York, Washington D.C., and Madrid. 5W Academy is our education initiative and organizes the workshop.

Juan was the Art Director of National Geographic magazine from 2008 to 2014. Previous to National Geographic, he worked as a graphics reporter for El Mundo (Spain) and as the Graphics Art Director for The New York Times.

Samuel was one of the original founders of the daily newspaper El Mundo (Madrid), in 1989. El Mundo’s art department quickly became the center of a “boom” of infographics in Europe. In the U.S., he became an Art Director at Fortune magazine.

5W Infographics has won over 150 national and international awards for its work on information design. Clients include The New York Times, National Geographic, Time magazine, Fortune, The Economist, the Smithsonian Museums, and the National Academy of Sciences, among others.

Over the last three years, we had nealy a thousand attendees to our workshops in Washington DC, New York City, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Berlin (Germany), Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai (China) Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Bangkok (Thailand), Manila (Philippines), Jakarta (Indonesia), Delhi and Mumbai (India), and others. We have over 10 years of previous experience as instructors and speakers.

Taipei (Taiwan), November 2017

Workshop in Amsterdam, June 2016

Amsterdam, June 2016 (hosted by Graphic Hunters)


Washington DC workshop, October 2016

Singapore, March 2016 (hosted by MaitreAllianz)

Singapore, March 2016 (hosted by MaitreAllianz)

  • Do I need any previous experience doing charts or infographics?

No. The workshop is definitely suitable for beginners and you don’t need any previous experience with infographics. It’s a broad introduction to infographics and data visualization where we’ll look at how to work with data, charts and mapping in print and online, and how to design complex infographics with multiple elements.

  • Do I need to know any software experience?

No. Most of our hands-on exercises will be done with hand sketching. We want to emphasize the process of making decisions about the source data, choosing between different visual alternatives to present it, and using color, hierarchy and typography to put it all together as a piece of visual storytelling. It’s about brainstorming, thinking visually, and making editorial and design decisions rather than software details, which would distract from the essence.

You’ll use a laptop (bring your own, optional) to do some general research (looking for source data and background information) for some of the exercises. And on the second day we’ll spend a couple of hours creating interactive data visualizations and maps with the free Tableau Public, for which you also don’t need previous experience. You won’t master the software but will get started and understand its potential.

  • Will I learn any Illustrator/PowerPoint/Coding tricks and skills?

This is not a software training class. We believe that learning the principles of data visualization and how to think and explain using visual concepts is different and more important than learning any particular tool. However, you’ll leave the workshop with a good knowledge about what tools are used today in the field, why, which ones may suit your needs, what they do, and how to expand your knowledge about them.

  • So I can start doing my own infographics right after the workshop?

We think so! If you have a minimal knowledge of Excel/PowerPoint and/or Adobe Illustrator you can be up and running armed with the practical knowledge on which types of charts/diagrams are best suited for your data, how to design your infographics/visualization and some key design guidelines. Plus you’ll be able to think visually in a way that gives you a new perspective on your content, and look critically at the infographics and data visualizations you encounter every day (so many bad ones surround us!)

  • What are the logistics” (venue, registration, lunches, cancellations, etc.)?

Please see our workshop page and click on the “practical information” tab.

  • Will you give any handouts/materials?

Yes, we’ll give you a few summaries or “cheat sheets” of the content of the workshop to remember the main points, as well as the entire presentations (a wealth of great infographics examples and tips) as PDF or Keynote files, and a very comprehensive list of print and online resources to allow you to expand your knowledge about data presentation, mapping, infographics, etc. after the workshop. You’ll also obtain a diploma/certificate.

  • Can I reach you for additional questions?

Please do! Email us anytime at

Workshops in India with WAN-IFRA

I’ll be in India on December 12-20 teaching workshops for local newspapers and journalists, organized by WAN-IFRA (World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers). This is the schedule:

  • December 13, Bangalore: One-day print infographics for Prajavani (Kannada language daily newspaper) and Deccan Herald (English daily).
  • December 14-15, Hyderabad: Two-day public workshop on infographics and data visualization (one day print, one day online).
  • December 16, 17, and 19, Kottayam (Kerala state): Three-day workshop with two days of online infographics and one day of print infographics for Malayala Manorama Daily (Malayalam language newspaper), The Week (English language magazine) and Manorama online (online portal).

I’m looking forward to look at the quickly changing landscape of Indian infographics after my previous workshops in India almost three years ago.


Infographics for The Zoomable Universe

The Zoomable Universe is a new book by Caleb Scharf, the Director of the Columbia Astrobiology Center and an award-winning author of Astronomy books. We were lucky to create all the infographics in the book, which is a new take on the Powers of Ten idea. The book is a tour through all known scales of reality, beginning at the limits of the observable universe and ending in the subatomic realm. The book is packed with our infographics and also illustrations by RonMiller, famous for his space art at publications like National Geographic and Scientific American.

The Zoomable Universe is published by Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Here are some of our graphics in the book.

Workshops in Taipei

I’ll be in Taipei next week (Nov 27- Dec 2) teaching a couple of corporate workshops on infographics and data visualization organized by our friends at Methodology, the Singaporean company that organizes excellent public and corporate workshops on different aspects of design and the creative process. The first will be with Gamania Group, a Taiwanese online game and digital entertainment company that is a leader in online gaming in Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and Korea and is expanding its reach to  news media, mobile payments, e-commerce, crowdfunding, social marketing and more. In addition to the two-day workshop, Gamania will host us for a public talk on infographics.

The second workshop will be with DBS Bank Taiwan. DBS, the largest bank in South East Asia, and Methodology have invited us for a series of workshops in the different DBS headquarters in Singapore, Shanghai, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Jakarta, and now it’s Taipei’s turn. As part of DBS’ continuous training, we are aiming at helping their staff understand the potential of infographics and data visualization to bring clarity and insight to their internal and external communications.

Our new workshop: Freelancing Bootcamp, the Business of Art

Getting started as a a freelancer in the creative field is as rewarding as it is difficult. For most people, it comes with a lot of surprises in terms of having to negotiate contracts, set up realistic pricing, marketing your work and finding clients, networking, tax and legal considerations, etc. It’s often hard to know how to get started. We have seen quite a few small companies and freelancers fail due to all those things that had nothing to do with their excellent work.

With that in mind, we are launching a new one-day workshop: Freelancing Bootcamp, in NYC on January 24th, 2018. Early bird discounts of $100 are available until November 30.

Our instructor is Anna Christian, an award-winning graphic designer with an impressive resume and more than 20 years of successful freelance experience. Read more about Anna in our workshop page.

This intensive workshop will provide you with the core fundamentals needed to start your own freelance business in the creative field. Whether you are a graphic designer, illustrator, digital designer, painter, or any variation of these, the workshop will provide you with the essential tools you need to start your own freelance business. By attending this workshop, you will have an understanding of business finances, how best to set up your business from a tax and legal standpoint, have the background and resources to effectively market your business, as well as have a file cabinet of useful contracts, agreements and forms needed to get on your way to building a successful freelance business.

The workshop will also cover methods of marketing and includes the vital pieces you will need to get your business running. We will cover how to best market your work, how to get set-up in social media marketing, and how to best promote your work via a promotional website. Getting work is the first step. Building a strong business of repeat clientele will make your business thrive. This workshop will offer strategies to retain and build your client-base so that you thrive as a creative freelancer.

Freelancing Bootcamp is one of three workshops we’ll have in January, with the other two focused in Infographics and data visualization: a two-day workshop in NYC on January 22-23, and a one-day worksop in Chicago on January 26.

Register soon to take advantage of the discount, and feel free to contact us with questions at or contact@5wgraphics.




Infographics workshop in Amsterdam

We’ll probably have workshops in Taiwan and Singapore before the end of the year, but it’s never too soon to announce the next one in Europe: next February I’ll be again in Amsterdam (Netherlands) teaching a two-day workshop on infographics for print and online. It’s organized by Graphic Hunters, an initiative by Goof van de Winkel that provides training on graphical literacy, infographic storytelling, online data visualization and more in the Netherlands with international trainers.

Here is some additional information on the workshop, which will take place on February 8 and 9, 2018. No previous experience is required. The course is suited to anyone who’s interested in learning how to communicate effectively through data visualization and infographics. It could appeal to graphic designers, editors, communications or marketing professionals, data analysts and/or researchers. It’s a mix of theory and lots of hands-on exercises where we’ll look at some principles of visual storytelling, design, best practices with charts and maps, tools and key concepts in interactive and data visualization, and more.

The class is taught in a beautiful location (Mmousse) in a downtown canal house on one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful canals, around the corner of the central station. The idea is to have a relatively small group. I did a version of the workshop in the same space two years ago (photo below).

Here is a testimonial (translated from Dutch)

The two day workshop Information Graphics For Print and Online was very inspiring and helped us (myself and my colleagues) very much. The organization of the workshop was excellent. In a nice location with a nice working environment and good lunches! The group of students was great. Large enough to have many different angles. And small enough to have a lot of personal interaction. Additionally, it is very nice to get in touch with people with similar interests (dataviz!), but completely different backgrounds. The course leader provided a wealth of experience and knowledge, and offered space to mess as a group with the matter. In addition to the inspiration, we learned to work with different visualization tools and get better visualizations. The extra that the course leader, Juan Velasco, added, were the aspects of dataviz that make it a classic craft. Or even an art form. Rid of all the fancy tools you can use today, and then you come back to the essence again. I recommend it to everyone!”

If you are interested in attending, please contact Goof van de Winkel at

Finally, you’ll find a cool note on Graphic Hunters’ website: since they work with trainers from abroad who travel by plane to the Netherlands specifically for the training, CO2 emissions from these trips are compensated by Graphic Hunters by contributing to Trees for All. Great idea!





Catalogs of chart types

The Data Viz Project is a new online catalog of different types of charts created by Ferdio, an infographics studio in Denmark. It’s a useful resource to help decide appropriate types of visualization for any given dataset (another thing is to decide which one will be the most insightful and revealing when you have multiple options). You can view and sort by type, function or shape.

Each type of chart includes a description, a good gallery of real-life examples, and a very simple description of the type of data input needed to create that type of chat, in a table format (what you would input in Excel, for instance).

The Data Viz Project is the latest of many efforts to classify and catalog different ways of visualizing data. Another excellent online resource is the Data Visualization Catalogue, developed by Severino Ribecca, which we often show in our workshops.

Ribecca teamed up with Jon Schwabish in another project to create the Graphic Continuum, a nicely designed poster taxonomy of different types of charts, and how they all relate to each other. You can read more about it here.

The Graphic Continuum

And here is yet another similar effort by Andrew Abela, which shows different possibilities depending on your purpose when showing the data.

Here is one by Anna Vital that is not strictly about charts but is interesting because it looks at visual analogies and metaphors that can help us think of ideas to visualize information.

If you are looking for a truly comprehensive reference guide on different types of visualization with charts and maps, our hands-down favorite is still the book Information Graphics: A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference, by Robert L. Harris. The 450-pages book is a massive reference encyclopedia with hundreds of entries, examples and cross-references about different chart, map and diagram types, as well as statistical and visualization methods. The latest edition is from 2000 but it’s still the “Bible” of reference on visualization.



Workshops and speaking in Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore

Last month I had a great long trip to Asia with some speaking engagements and workshops.

The first destination was Beijing. My friend Ying Wu, Visual Director at People’s Daily Media Innovation (PDMI) and an internationally recognized designer (formerly of the Boston Globe) invited me to speak about infographics and data visualization at People’s Daily headquarters. People’s Daily is the largest newspaper of China, and the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, providing direct information on government policies and viewpoints.

I was struck at how technologically advanced People’s Daily and PDMI are. The new headquarters of People’s Daily in Beijing’s Chaoyang District are one of the most modern newsrooms I’ve had the pleasure to visit. I had a video interview and then a nice talk and conversation with staffers discussing infographics, data, the challenges of their work and where they are headed.

The following day I visited the Communication University of China (CUC), the top journalism school in China. Students there had great interest in news infographics and data journalism, and they asked really good questions.

After Beijing, I traveled to Shanghai to conduct a two-day workshop for DBS Bank staff. We had been working with DBS with similar workshops in Singapore, Hong Kong, Jakarta, and Mumbai before. The idea is to show the value of infographics and data visualization as a tool to bring insight, clarity and communicate complex information and data in a visually engaging and revealing way, both to internal stakeholders and to the general public.

The last stop was in Singapore. We were there once again (9th time, I think) teaching a public workshop on infographics hosted by our friends of Methodology (they also organize the DBS workshops). Methodology develops great education programs, workshops, conference and media about creative ideas and design processes.

The final two days in Singapore I had the opportunity to conduct a workshop on interactive  /mobile infographics for staff working at the different media publications of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). SPH is the publisher of The Straits Times, Singapore’s largest newspaper (founded in 1845) and clearly one of the best in South East Asia. They do excellent infographics and dataviz both in print and online. It was great to spend time with them as well as with members of Lianhe Zaobao (the flagship Chinese newspaper in Singapore), The Business Times, AsiaOne and other SPH media organizations. The workshop was organized by WAN-IFRA, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers