What is a Pictograph/Pictogram? Robert’s Perspective

Personally, I have to separate the terms “pictograph” from “pictogram.”

I’ve always been taught that a pictograph is a graph that uses pictures as representations of data instead of typical bars, lines, or dots.

This, to me, is a pictograph:

This is a pictograph.

This is a pictograph.

A pictogram, on the other hand, is a visual representation that coveys a certain meaning through visual characters, objects, or words. IE: Commonplace pictograms include the male and female symbols you see hanging outside restrooms.

Pictograms go beyond language boundaries.  Anyone, from anywhere,  who views a pictogram should be able to understand its meaning. IE: If you see a skull and crossbones, you assume either danger or piracy.

Examples of pictograms:

A pictogram representation of the movie "Psycho."

A pictogram representation of the movie “Psycho.”

Common pictograms

Common pictograms

Note: In the “Psycho” pictogram, the images are fairly obvious representations of what they are supposed to mean. Girl in shower + man in knife = viewer awareness of graphic representation of the film.

For graphic design purposes, pictograms are synonymous with pictographs. However, in other fields they are two different things.


About Robert Norris

I am a 25 year old college graduate from Maryville College. I have a huge interest in public relations, advertising, social media marketing, and writing. I love graphic design as well and have a huge interest in creating "something from nothing." ~Thank You For Visiting My Blog. Best Of Luck! Robert E. Norris
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