A picture is worth a thousand words

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A picture is worth a thousand words.jpg

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a saying and a metaphor for the added value of pictures over text alone. It refers to the fact that complicated facts can often be explained very simply with a picture or a representation and a picture usually has a stronger impression on the viewer than a long text.


The first printed proof can be found in the English-speaking area. On December 8, 1921 Fred R. Barnard published in a journal of the advertising industry , Printers' Ink , a display with the slogan "One Look is Worth A Thousand Words". The ad promoted the use of images in advertising prints on trams. On March 10, 1927, a second advertisement appeared with the phrase "One Picture is Worth Ten Thousand Words". There it is claimed that it is a Chinese proverb. The book The Home Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Familiar Phrases quotes the author Barnard, who said he had the slogan "dubbed as the Chinese proverb, so people take it seriously."

In the German language Kurt Tucholsky used the phrase in 1926 as the headline for an article in the Uhu magazine with photo illustration .


More information about the meaning of the metaphor can be found in the articles visualization , illustration , information graphics , advertising , journalistic representation and sparkline .


  • Benedetto Croce: Aesthetics as a science of expression . Mohr & Siebeck, Tübingen 1930.
  • Nicolai Hartmann : Aesthetics . 2nd edition, de Gruyter, Berlin 1966, DNB 456917543
  • Gustav Frank: Philology in Agony or 'a picture is worth a thousand words'. Literary Studies after the Pictorial Turn. In: Walter Erhart (Ed.): Limits of German Studies. Rephilologization or expansion? (= German symposia. Report volumes . Volume 26). Metzler, Stuttgart 2004, pp. 377-391.
  • Günter Kerner, Rold Duroy: Imagery. Textbook for the fine arts department. Visual communication in upper secondary level . Two volumes. Don Bosco, Munich 1981 ff.
  • Burton Stevenson: The Home Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Familiar Phrases . Macmillan, New York 1948, p. 2611.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Roland Jaeger: In contrast to the reader. The “Schaubücher” series from Orell Füssli Verlag, Zurich. In: Manfred Heiting, Roland Jaeger (Hrsg.): Autopsy. German-language photo books 1918 to 1945. Volume 1. Steidl, Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-86930-412-0 , p. 316