FatFonts – coming to an infographic near you?

Infographics are familiar to most heavy users of the internet and in my professional life I have recommended clients make more use of them to convey complex arguments and statistics to the wider world.

FatFont mapping of Mount EtnaNow, reports New Scientist (the article seems currently only to be available to subscribers) info graphics could be given extra impact through “FatFont” – a numeric font developed at the University of St Andrews in Fife and the University of Calgary. In this the weight (inked area) of the font is proportional to the size of the number – hence 2 has twice as much inked area as 1 (within the same overall area for the numbers – see the photograph of Sicily and Mount Etna being mapped with FatFonts).

The advantage, say the developers is that it allows both broad information – Mount Etna looks darker because it is higher – and precise data (here to a precision of 1 – 99) to be combined (overall the system works for range 1 – 999). So it could be ideal for both those scanning a graphic out of casual interest and those looking for reusable and accurate data.

FontFonts are now to be tested with users and compared to alternative methods such as heat maps.