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How to create an infographic in SAS Visual Analytics

Started ‎09-13-2018 by
Modified ‎09-13-2018 by
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You may have seen my book, Infographics Powered by SAS®: Data Visualization Techniques for Business Reporting, which was published this year. In it, I walk through how you can use various SAS software like SAS Visual Analytics (VA), SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office, and SAS code to create compelling and engaging infographics to tell your story with your data. As an extension to book my colleague Falko Schulz and I wrote a paper for SAS Global Forum 2018 which uses SAS VA to create infographic-inspired dashboards. That paper was great fun as Falko and I have collaborated many times over the years, and he always inspires me to ask more questions and dream big. This leads me to this article: an infographic about my book on infographics.


The infographic creation process I talk about in the book is repeatable and iterative. I have used this approach for many years when creating engaging reports and dashboards.





 Infographic Creation Process (Murphy,2018)Infographic Creation Process (Murphy,2018)


I like to think of infographics as creating ‘on-ramps’ for insights into the data. I could have used many software tools to create my infographic about my infographic book. The simple option is to use a presentation tool like Microsoft PowerPoint or a simple office productivity tool. I could have used a professional illustration or graphic design package also. However, because I wanted to do some analysis of the book data as well as design an engaging blog post, I decided to use SAS VA to create the entire infographic. This article steps through creating an infographic using SAS Visual Analytics.


In using SAS VA, I was able to use quantitative and subjective together, and importantly it enables me to use analytics to improve my insight and include that insight in my output.


So where did I start?

I loaded the entire PDF document of my book into SAS Viya, and right away this is ready to use in my infographic. It does not mean much to me at the moment as it is just text, so I will use the text analysis option included in SAS Visual Analytics, to provide the insight.

 Analyze text in SAS Visual AnalyticsAnalyze text in SAS Visual Analytics



Right away, I can see the value in the text. I can use the options panel to change some elements of the text analysis, and if I need more, I could go even further with SAS Visual Text Analytics which allows me to control and create production models for use across more books or text data. I am happy using VA for the text analysis because I want to explore my one book of text and see what I was writing about. I am really interested in the terms and topics being discussed in the book and this information is easy to include in my infographic.



Start with the End in Mind

It can be helpful to see the end when you are trying to learn how to use software to achieve an outcome. Below is the finished infographic and shows what I built using SAS Visual Analytics. I like to think that by seeing what options are available, then you can see how you may use the software to get there also. After many iterations of design and exploring data to understand what was possible to display, I landed on the following tiled layout design.


 Screenshot SAS Visual AnalyticsScreenshot SAS Visual Analytics


How I got here is also important. As mentioned in the creation process, at the beginning I step away from the tools and look to draw my design first on a whiteboard (in a very rough way). This was a little tough without the data points, so I had to start to collect some data and what the book could tell me about itself. The book text is one avenue, however that is not the only analysis. I wanted some additional data points to discuss in my infographic. So I started exploring. Elements like number of images in the book, time it took to write the book, meta data about the book, and of course the text in the book.


Tips when creating the infographic using SAS VA:

Data-Driven Objects

Non-Data Objects

  • Text: using the rich text editor is just like using desktop publishing tools. This is used in the quote and days tiles in the example.
  • Container:  Container objects are a key element to creating the desired look and feel for my infographic. The container dictates the behavior of objects it contains. You also get to use different container settings like precision, standard, and stacked to assist with the design. Precision container provides the most control and allows layered design of one object over another object. This allows endless options for use in SAS Visual Analytics.
  • Image:  I created some icon images as PNG with some opacity built in. This way they take on the colour of background I choose for each container. This means I can change the overall colors of the infographic at any time, and not have to revisit the images.

Completed Infographic in SAS Visual AnalyticsCompleted Infographic in SAS Visual Analytics


Finally – Sharing the content

How to share the design out to the audience is a bit of an obsession of mine. By keeping an audience at the forefront of your data- driven graphics, you can design with confidence. Will you be sending an image or screen grab, versus an interactive dashboard versus a repeatable and automated poster style? In this example I wanted to create a flexible, secure and reusable dashboard and that's why I decided to use SAS Visual Analytics. How you deliver the content to your audience matters all the way through the process.


If you want to know more about using SAS software to create infographics, then please take a look at my book, or the SAS Global Forum papers at the following link. You can get a copy of my book here, and as always please share your examples and discussion below.


Great infographic example @TravisMurphy! Love the structured tile based layout. Well done.

Love this @TravisMurphy! A very meta post... infographic on how to create infographics on an infographic book! 🙂


Really enjoyed the book, the examples and yours & @FalkoSchulz's paper.

Great Infographic.

SAS Visual Analytics (VA) is web-based environment that supports several applications. It allows you to create beautiful, interactive dashboards or reports that are immediately available on the web or a mobile device.

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