Rhetorical Analysis Memo (Infographic)

Complete this heuristic to successfully plan an infographic for personal, school, or workplace contexts. Analyze your rhetorical situation to assess the best design for your infographic. Review intellectual property guidelines governing the use of images.

Note: The Rhetorical Analysis Memo (Infographic) is a memo students write to their instructor in Professional Writing, an undergraduate writing course. This memo is the first of three deliverables for a module on Infographics, visual language, and design.

[ Course Syllabus | Schedule | Infographic ]

Assignment Guidelines

Below is a summary of tasks associated with the Infographic Assignment.

  1. Do a strategic search for exemplary infographics. Look both for infographics on the topic you’ve chosen and for infographics that have been recognized for being “good” infographics
  2. Narrow your topic and locate credible sources of data related to your topic.
  3. Identify a target audience in the form of a business, organization, government agency, public official, or community group
  4. Analyze the infographic development tools that are available and choose the tool(s) you’ll use for this project.
  5. Analyze the audience, purpose, and context for your infographic and figure out what “story” you want to tell and how you want to tell it. (See the Assignment 3.1 and 3.2 handouts, and use the Infographic Planning Worksheet to guide your thinking and help you develop your rhetorical analysis memo.)


Below is a heuristic–an invention exercise.

You do not need to respond to all of the rhetorical elements identified below. Rather, please respond to this exercise with a one-page memo to your instructor that summarizes your plans for your infographic. The goal of this exercise is to help you get started drafting an infographic by encouraging you to consider the rhetorical situation for your message. This exercise should also serve as a rough draft for your design memo.

Context: Occasion, Exigency, Context

What is the occasion for the infographic?

  1. What issue problem or need compels you to write or act at this particular time and place? 
  2. Why is this issue important right now? 
  3. What is at stake – and for whom?


Who is the primary audience? What type of audience is this and what are they looking for in the document?

  1. Is the audience enthusiastic, receptive, neutral, hostile? 
  2. How will their biases/preconceptions influence readers’ reception of the document? 
  3. Are they likely to be resistant to the situation in which the message is delivered or to the content of the message itself? 
  4. Are they more likely to agree, disagree or be indifferent to the information in the document?

Story (Purpose)

What is the story? Can you phrase your story as a question? What data do you need to tell your story?

If you’re still looking for the story or argument you’d like to make, check out 16 Easy Ways To Think Of Amazing Infographic Ideas.

Given the exigency of the moment, you might want to look at the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic on your life, chosen career, generation, state, nation.

There has been a lot of variability in factors like who gets designated as having died from Covid. Thus, there are problems with the authenticity of the Covid Dashboard.  For example some European countries were not including fatalities when the person was in a nursing home. Also, there are suspicions that some countries, like China and Russia, are not being transparent about numbers of infected and deaths. How could you use that occasion to tell a story about the virus and authentic information?

The best infographics are created when a story comes first. In a completed piece, every data point, piece of copy, and design element should support the story.

Huffington Post, Crafting an Infographic Narrative, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/crafting-an-infographic-n_b_3424261


What tool(s) will you use to create the infographic, original graphic(s), chart, tables, or graphs? Why?

Resources for Creating Infographics

In your strategic search for exemplary infographics, did you notice how they were created? You can access loads of tools/apps on the internet for generating infographics. Many of these tools provide a free version for 30 days.

To choose a tool that will save you the most time, check out the templates that the toolsets provide. Finding a template that works for the story you want to tell can be a timesaver. Yet it’s also fine for you to begin from scratch–a blank Word, Google, Photoshop page.

Evidence + Dataset

What datasets will be used?  

  1. Remember, the assignment calls for at least two data sets per author.
  2. Provide the bibliographical information for the datasets.
    • Note: Provide this information as discreetly as possible on your final infographic. You may use MLA, APA, or Chicago citation styles.

The internet provides extraordinary access to open-access data sources. You can find all you need at the Milne Library at SUNY Geneseo.

If you’re looking specifically for data related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, check out the following data repositories:

State and federal agency websites are also good sources of information: 


What original graphic are you planning to develop? Have you found a template you’d like to use or are you planning to develop your own original design? What elements of graphic design do you imagine employing?

Elements of Graphic Design

  1. Mixed charts
  2. Informational List
  3. Timeline
  4. How-to (steps in creating something or phases)
  5. Process (flow chart, decision tree)
  6. Comparison (two products, people, ideas – similar or opposing)
  7. Location (compare regional/global stats)
  8. Photographic 
  9. Hierarchical
  10. Single chart (one chart = focal point)
  11. Visualizing numbers
  12. Anatomical


What organizational schemas did you use to tell your story?

Organizational Schemas

  • Chronological
  • Alphabetical
  • Geographical
  • Categorical
  • Hierarchical

Related Concepts

Infographic Assignment

Understand the three deliverables associated with the Infographic Assignment. Get a sense of the big picture regarding expectations. 


Learn about

  • infographics as a medium of visual communication in workplace, school, personal, and social contexts
  • the principles of visual language, including typography, color theory, Gestalt and/or CRAAP design theory.
  • the use of infographics as a medium of visual language.

Rhetorical Analysis of Infographic

Complete this heuristic to successfully plan an infographic for personal, school, or workplace contexts. Analyze your rhetorical situation to assess the best design for your infographic. Review intellectual property guidelines governing the use of images.

Memo to Instructor Justifying Design Choices

Learn how to justify your design choices for the infographic assignment. Reflect on what you’ve learned about visual communication and infographics as a medium for visual language.