Information design is the practice of presenting information in a way that fosters efficient and effective understanding of it. The term has come to be used specifically for graphic design for displaying information effectively, rather than just attractively or for artistic expression. Information design is closely related to the field of data visualization and is often taught as part of graphic design courses.
The term 'information design' emerged as a multidisciplinary area of study in the 1970s. Some graphic designers started to use the term, and it was consolidated with the publication of the Information Design Journal in 1979, and later with the setting up of the related Information Design Association (IDA) in 1991. In 1982, Edward Tufte produced a book on information design called The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. The term information graphics tends to be used by those primarily concerned with diagramming and display of quantitative information. In technical communication, information design refers to creating an information structure for a set of information aimed at specified audiences. It can be practiced on different scales.
On a large scale, it implies choosing relevant content and dividing it into separate manuals by audience and purpose.
On a medium scale, it means organizing the content in each manual and making sure that overviews, concepts, examples, references, and definitions are included and that topics follow an organizing principle.
On a fine scale, it includes logical development of topics, emphasis on what's important, clear writing, navigational clues, and even page design, choice of font, and use of white space.
Information design can be used for broad audiences (such as signs in airports) or specific audiences (such as personalized telephone bills). The resulting work often seeks to improve a user's trust of a product (such as medicine packaging inserts, operational instructions for industrial machinery and information for emergencies). Governments and regulatory authorities have legislated about a number of information design issues, such as the minimum size of type in financial small print, the labeling of ingredients in processed food, and the testing of medicine labeling. Examples of this are the Truth in Lending Act in the USA, which introduced the Schumer box (a concise summary of charges for people applying for a credit card), and the Guideline on the Readability of the Labelling and Package Leaflet of Medicinal Products for Human Use (European Commission, Revision 1, 12 January 2009).