The use of arrows and pointers in a visual narrative

Here we explore the use of arrows and pointers in a visual narrative. These simple yet powerful tools can help you in guiding your audience through the story you want to tell with your data.

Arrows and pointers serve several valuable purposes in data visualization:

  • Direct the viewer’s attention: Arrows and pointers can help focus the audience’s attention on specific areas or elements within the data visualization. For example, if you have a bar chart showing sales revenue over time and want to emphasize the month with the highest sales, you can use a bold arrow pointing directly at that bar.
  • Indicate relationships and connections: Arrows can also be used to show relationships and connections between different elements of your data visualization. For instance, in a flowchart, you can use arrows to demonstrate the flow of a process from one step to the next.
  • Show direction and trends: In some cases, arrows can help indicate the direction of a trend or movement in your data. For example, a line chart showing the increase in global temperatures over time could use an arrow pointing upward to reinforce the idea that temperatures are rising.


Now let’s explore some tips on using arrows and pointers effectively: 

  • Use arrows sparingly: Arrows can be a powerful tool, but their impact is diminished if overused. Use them only when they are necessary to help guide the viewer’s attention, show connections, or reinforce essential elements of your data story.
  • Make your arrows clear and easy to understand: Ensure your arrows are easily recognizable, and avoid using colors, patterns, or designs that may confuse the audience. Stick to simple arrows that get the point across without being distracting.
  • Ensure arrows don’t interfere with the data: Be cautious in placing arrows around your data visualizations. Make sure they don’t obscure any critical data points or make the visualization difficult to read.


Let’s consider some examples to illustrate these concepts better: 

  • In a presentation on the growth of a company’s social media followers, you could use an arrow to point out the most significant increase in followers after a specific marketing campaign. This helps your audience quickly grasp the campaign’s impact on social media growth. 
  • In a visual representation of a customer’s journey through your sales funnel, you can use arrows to show the flow from one stage to the next. This helps communicate the process more clearly and provides a visual aid for understanding the customer’s path.
  • In a map showing pollution levels in a city, you could use arrows to represent the wind direction, indicating how pollution may be carried from one area to another. This helps the audience make a connection between pollution sources and the areas most affected by it. 

In summary, arrows, and pointers are valuable tools in a visual narrative to direct attention, show relationships, and indicate direction. When used effectively, they can enhance your data story and help your audience better understand your message.