Information Design: Where To Start

Cosine asked:

… although I like computers and pick up fast, I have little to no information design experience. In other words, I am your dream: a tabula rasa. Where do I begin?

A response via e-mail to another reader asking, essentially, the same question:

Frankly, if it were me, I’d start out with pen & paper. Probably graph paper. Even with my atrocious penmanship and drawing skills, I’d just start representing information in stacks. eg. if I spent twice as much time reading books as watching t.v., I’d make sure the one stack was twice as tall as the other, a design feat made easy with graphing paper.

Not long after that I’d start looking for ways to make my graphs consistent – same stack width, same block letterhead heading each graph, same colors – slowly building my way from a merely functional design to an attractive, useful one.

Then I’d scan the paper in or take a picture of it.

No sense in fettering imagination with technology. Just stick with what feels comfortable until the uncomfortable starts to look interesting.

Until I’m able to put some introductory level stuff up here, you’ve got Arthus, blogging away at his technique in a multi-part series.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. I would say that the Scott Elias presentation is a great place to start too.

    Also, the “Death by Power Point” presentation is worth a watch:

    I recently read Garr Reynolds Presentation Zen book. It actually had a lot of the same stuff as in the above mentioned presentations, but also had some great examples of bad slides v. good slides:

  2. All of these links from Graham and J.D. are excellent examples of good presentation, which is occasionally a component of, but isn’t the same thing as information design.