The 13 Most Compelling Infographics Of 2013

Everything that was visualized this year, our fat bodies, three secret Americas, bike sharing, and way more.


Numbers. They can be so hard to read and make sense of. Thank God intrepid designers are constantly turning those numbers into beautifully designed maps, charts, and graphics for us to feast our eyes on. We love infographics for their ability to take the complicated concepts we’re often discussing here and break them down so that they’re digestible.


One age-old way to do that is a simple map, which we saw a lot of in the past year. Maps that rearrange America into new states based on how our dollar bills move or where our water comes from. Even a map of an America divided into three separate countries based on our emotional states. (For a list of just maps, click here).

But once we’ve happily rearranged the states for a while, there are also other concerns. Bike sharing, buses, and our bodies and what we put in them. Finally, please scroll all the way to the bottom for an incredibly amusingly large infographic that deliciously mocks the de rigueur ridiculously tall infographics, while also making an important point about conservation.

Enjoy these graphics, you’re going to get smarter while you read them, without even knowing. If you want to see 2012’s best infographics, too, go here.

1: Shirtless Americans Next To People From Skinnier Countries Show How Fat We Are

Nothing says you’ve got a few pounds to lose like looking in the mirror. Here, an artist holds up a mirror to America’s expanding waist line.

2: A New Map Of The U.S., Created By How Our Dollar Bills Move


Using a site that tracks dollar bills, a theoretical physicist noticed that our state boundaries are rather arbitrary, but that money tends to stay within new, more realistic boundaries.

3: If You Graduated After 1976, You Are Getting Screwed By The Economy

This infographic shows the hard truth for anyone in their late 30s or younger: Everything has been more difficult for you, and it’s just getting worse.

4: These 10 Countries Are The Most Prosperous In The World, And They Don’t Include The U.S.

Will we be left out of the “new economic world order”?

5: Mapping The Wealth Of U.S. ZIP Codes Shows The Haves Hiding From The Have-Nots


This interactive graphic, which lets you see the economic stats for every ZIP code in the country, shows the emergence of “Super ZIPs”–communities where nearly everyone is wealthy.

6: The Secret Tricks Behind Misleading Images Of Fitness Success

You, too, could look like the pictures for gym ads–without any Photoshop. All it takes is a few of these little tricks of light and perspective. Or we could just agree to not feel bad about ourselves.

7: A New Map Of The U.S., Created From Where We Get Our Water

Instead of fighting over water, what if each state’s boundaries let it get water from one source? Check out the Watershed States of America.

8: There Are Three Americas Hiding Inside Our Country–Which Do You Live In?


America is divided by politics, economics, and geography. But it turns out that we also tend to cluster around people who act the same as us.

9: Mapping The Worldwide Bike Sharing Phenomenon

Bike sharing is just starting to really catch on in the U.S., but it’s huge all over the world. These maps show the systems in cities from Moscow to Rio.

10: Mesmerizing Maps Of A City’s Moving Buses

These maps of how fast the buses drive through Boston offer a beautiful look at the city’s transit system.

11: Y’all Vs. You All: Mapping The Linguistic Peculiarities Of American English


These heat maps of the U.S. break down how people use language and pronounce words differently in different parts of the country: Soda vs. pop, sub vs. hero, water fountain vs. … bubbler?

12: Mapping The Most Hate-Filled Places In America

The maps from Geography of Hate look at where across the country people are most likely to be tweeting something deeply hateful.

13: This Hilariously Enormous Infographic Shows That Sharks Don’t Kill You, You Kill Sharks

Contrasting the amount of people eaten by sharks annually with the number of sharks killed by humans in a single day puts the deadly ocean predator’s plight in a different context. It’s more sharks than you can possibly prepare yourself for.

Read more of our best stories of the year in these categories: Top stories, infographics, photography, maps, buildings, design, cities, food, transportation, innovative workplaces, bikes, collaborative consumption, energy, crowdfunding, robots, environment, health, education

About the author

Morgan is a senior editor at Fast Company. He edits the Impact section, formerly Have an idea for a story? You can reach him at mclendaniel [at]