Wiki Pages > Information Mapping

About Information Mapping

Information MappingTM is a trademarked methodology for writing and structuring content. It was developed by Robert Horn, a researcher at Harvard and Columbia Universities, in 1967.

The overall process of Information Mapping consists of three major steps: analysis, organization, and presentation.

Analysis

The technical communicator analyzes both the text and the audience's needs in order to make effective decisions about how to present the content. 

Organization

The technical communicator organizes draft content into categories of six different types of information:

  • Procedure (steps)
  • Process description (explanations)
  • Structure (descriptions)
  • Concept (definitions and examples)
  • Principle (rules)
  • Fact (physical characteristics)

Presentation

The technical communicator applies four basic principles to guide formatting decisions: 

  • Chunking: Is all the information broken down into non-divisible chunks?
  • Labeling: Are all chunks of information assigned an appropriate label?
  • Relevance: Is everything within a chunk of information essential to the audience's needs?
  • Hierarchy: Are hierarchical labels consistently applied to tell readers where they have been and where they are going?

The various types and pieces ("blocks") of information are then arranged into groupings that Horn describes as "information maps."

Note: Numerous research studies have indicated that the Information Mapping method increases information accessibility and usability and optimizes comprehension and performance. However, the approach has been somewhat controversial. Page 8 of the Namahn article cited under Resources lists some pros and cons of the method.

Resources

http://www.infomap.com/ (Information Mapping world-wide headquarters)

http://www.infomap.com/index.cfm/Europe/ (Information Mapping European headquarters)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_mapping (Wikipedia entry for Information Mapping)

http://www.namahn.com/resources/documents/note-IM.pdf (Information Mapping, a research note by Namahn. White paper by Namahn design consultants in Brussels, December 2001)

Credits

Karla Busch. This page was created for the persona of Kate Watkins.

Producing Technical Communication > Information Design and Development > Information Management.

Producing Technical Communication > Information Design and Development > Information Design.