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Always Use Pictures

Use Pictures. Always. Why the Picture Superiority Effect (PSE) Matters

A “re-post” of an article by The Visual Communication Guy

People like pictures. A lot.

… there is overwhelming research-based evidence to suggest that it’s not just a personal preference or that it is a cultural phenomenon.

The human brain loves pictures. It processes pictures faster than any other form of communication, and it remembers pictures far, far more than it does written, oral, and nonverbal communications.

When it comes to conveying and making information memorable, pictures reign supreme.

In fact, the phenomenon is so prevalent within the brain, there’s an official name for it:

You can click on that Wikipedia link for more detail,

but let me summarize:

the more pictures you use, the more likely people will be able to remember what you communicated to them. Brain guru John Medina put it this way:

“Human Picture Superiority Effect is truly Olympian.

Tests performed years ago showed that people could remember more than 2,500 pictures with at least 90 percent accuracy several days post-exposure,

even though subjects saw each photo for about 10 seconds. Accuracy rates a year later still hovered around 63 percent. …

Text and oral presentations are not just less efficient than pictures for retaining certain types of information; they are way less efficient.

If information is presented orally, people remember about 10 percent, when tested 72 hours after exposure. That figure goes up to 65 percent if you add a picture.”


I’ve known for a long time my “audio retention” was lacking. You give me verbal directions to get some place, and I was lucky to get where I was goin’. You give me a “map”, and I was as good as there.

A writing example would be the ‘lift-note’. I think it works well in copy because it’s a form of a picture. Even though it’s virtually all text, the whole “lift note” is a visual. More or less a picture.

Same with a “Johnson Box”. It’s a visual. A break in the text. It helps the whole of the copy from becoming monotonous and boring.

It’s also why I take great pains to ‘format’ my text. In all kinds of ways. It’s easier on the eye, it is a visual thing, and therefore retained by the brain better. It also helps keep the reader interested.

So while this photo is not directly related to this article, I’m gonna leave you w/ a picture, nonetheless. Just because.


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