Infographics outperform other types of visual online marketing content like videos, memes and stock photography, according to a study by Venngage.
But many small businesses and bloggers don’t use infographics because they’re difficult and expensive to create. Or are they? The solution may be on your desktop now.
PowerPoint may be the best-kept secret for making infographics without investing in new software or hiring a designer. It’s also a great option for those of us who become deer in the headlights when faced with Photoshop’s powerful but complex user interface.
PowerPoint has been an accomplice in countless eye-glazing live presentations around the world. But as an easy-to-use basic graphic design tool, it’s surprisingly awesome, especially when you’re on a small budget and/or a tight deadline.
To prove the point, I decided to see how long it would take me to create a couple of how-to infographics. I used to teach basic PowerPoint (PPT), but it’s been more than five years since I’ve taught or used the program, so although I’m not a total newbie, I’m far from a power user. Here’s how my experiments turned out.
Option 1: Use a PowerPoint Infographic Template
PowerPoint newbie? In a hurry? Drop your text and images into an existing template for PowerPoint infographics. There are oodles of free options online, and plenty for sale, too.
Pros: free or inexpensive, fast, great for getting your feet wet with PowerPoint and infographics
Cons: may not find the perfect design fit for your information, won’t be an original design, colors and fonts may not quite match your branding
Time to create this infographic, starting with a downloaded template (we downloaded this one for free from HubSpot): 45 minutes.
Note that this is a bare-bones cut-and-paste job. I could have taken another more time to change design elements like fonts, colors and the icons next to the text boxes.
How to Make a PowerPoint Infographic from a Template
- Open your template. Choose one that will show off the info you have to share, with whatever charts, graphs and text bubbles will work best for your project.
- Add your content. Replace the dummy text in the template with your own copy and data. To do this, you’ll click on the element you want to replace, delete the existing content, and then paste your content into that box.
- Trim the excess. If the template has more text boxes, charts, or other design elements than you need, you can click on the extras and delete them. You may have to resize the slide dimensions when you’re finished to avoid too much empty space.
- Source your facts. PowerPoint doesn’t let you add endnotes the way Word does. But you can expand the font menu, create your own endnote numbers in superscript, and then add your sources at the bottom of the graphic.
- Brand your infographic. Change the slide background, shape and font colors to match your brand’s theme. Change the fonts to those your brand uses. And remember to add your logo, company name and URL.
Option 2: Build a PowerPoint Infographic from Scratch
Can’t find the template you want? Have a specific vision? Build your own infographic on a single PPT slide.
Pros: more control over how your infographic looks, more freedom to get creative, free
Cons: requires more time, a bit more PowerPoint skill, design and color sense are helpful
Time required to create this infographic, from blank slide to finished file: One hour, 47 minutes.
I might have been able to finish it faster, but there are a lot of cute animal icons in PowerPoint that required careful study.
How to Make a PowerPoint Infographic from a Blank Slide
- Set your slide size and orientation first. Delete the title slide PowerPoint gives you and insert a blank slide. In Design > Slide Size > Custom Slide Size, choose portrait orientation and choose your own height and width. Ten inches by 20 is a good start. You can always adjust the length later.
- Set yourself up for success. Go to View and select Grid and Guidelines so you can easily align and center your design elements and text. These lines won’t appear on your finished product.
- Add your content. Start with your background items: shapes to break up the space, SmartArt for flowcharts, and charts for illustrating data from Excel or building your own charts in the slide. Then add your text and numbers by inserting text or word art boxes where you want the content to appear.
- Source your facts. As mentioned above, PowerPoint doesn’t automate endnote creation like Word does. You can use the superscript function in the font toolbar to make your own endnote numbers and type the sources at the bottom of the graphic.
- Brand your work. As with template-made infographics, you can edit your slide’s background, shape and font colors to match your brand’s theme. Or you can use one of PPT’s color themes, which is what I did. If your brand uses specific fonts, use them in your graphic, too. Include your logo, company name, call to action, URL and a phone number if you want readers to call.
- Proofread and edit. Check your spelling, look for missed words, and make sure your color choices and fonts are consistent throughout your infographic. Use the grid and guideline tools to ensure the elements are aligned the way you want them.
Got extra space at the end of your slide? Run out of room for your content? Go back to Slide Size and subtract or add a few inches to your custom slide length. Then go back to your work screen. You may see that your top text and graphics are hanging off into empty space now. Don’t panic. Hit CTRL+A and use the down (or up) arrow key to move every element on the slide back onto the background without losing your spacing and alignment.
Finally, Save your slide as a .PNG file. PNGs are great for resizing without losing resolution.
Ready to try making some PowerPoint infographics for your blog or business? Check out our suggestions of ways to use infographics on your site.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance B2B content marketing writer. Her specialty areas include SMB marketing and growth, data security, IoT, and fraud prevention