Let pictographs show numerical relationships in a visually symbolic manner

Pictographs are essentially bar graphs composed of pictures. They can be very visually effective. Pictographs are of two basic types. In one, each symbol corresponds to a specific quantity (Fig. 3.5). In the other, uniformly sized symbols each represent a given quantity with a key provided that explains their meaning (Fig. 3.6). Often the precise actual numbers are posted at the end of each row or column, since such graphs present an approximation.

Perhaps because their construction historically has fallen within the domain of graphic artists, pictographs rarely appear in scientific writing, though they might provide welcome variety. With the ease with which they can be constructed using computer graphics software and clip art, they deserve wider use. They are especially appropriate and effective for illustrating oral and poster presentations. If you choose to use this type of illustration, remember that pictographs are most effective when the symbols chosen represent the subject matter and are arranged in a way that presents an organized message.

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