Here’s an updated list of online tools to create alternative story forms for the web (2023)

Over the years, journalists have found creative ways to inform readers using web-based tools for interactive graphics or other multimedia elements. These tools come and go, though. Some that used to be free now require a fee, and some have been bought by other companies, which may have changed them or discontinued their use. This is the short list of tools I’m giving my own student journalists these days, and while I can’t guarantee they’ll be around forever, many of them have been around long enough to be considered established. 


Create a chart, graphic or other information graphic using data you collected or found. Remember to include the source of the data and, if it was collected by you, the data collection method and survey size.

  • Infogram: Easy-to-create infographics from a template, can be interactive
  • Canva: Easy-to-use and visually pleasing graphics with high flexibility
  • Flourish: Use a spreadsheet and customizable templates to create complex, interactive visualizations
  • StorylineJS: Add headings and captions to points on a line chart, uses Google sheets


Use these tools to move beyond static images. Remember to include a photo credit and, if necessary, a complete caption.

  • Giphy: Use an animated GIF to show movement or a complete action
  • JuxtaposeJS: Compare two images (before/after) with a slider
  • Flourish – Cards: Create a grid of carousel of images with information
  • Genially, Interactive Image: Upload an image and overlay with hotspots
  • SceneVR: Create a slideshow of 360/panoramic images with text


Embed a map to display data, show the details of a location or tell a geographic story.

  • StorymapJS: Use a simple google sheet to place information, images onto a Google map
  • Google Maps, Map Hub: Create a custom route or map with markers, information
  • Flourish – Projection and 3D maps: Create and customize maps to display data
  • Flourish – Marker map: Place custom markers on a map or diagram


Embed audio directly into a story as a playlist, an audio player or an in-text clip.

  • Spotify: Embed a playlist
  • SoundCloud: Upload an audio file, then embed an audio player
  • SoundciteJS: Embed in-line audio clips within the text of a story


Social media posts from public accounts are often directly embeddable into your post.

  • Instagram: Embed an Instagram post from a public profile
  • Twitter: Embed a Twitter post from a public profile
  • Wakelet: Curate a collection of resources from around the web into a single “story”


Create a timeline of events, integrating images, text and links to external sources. Some tools will even allow video or audio embedding.

  • TimelineJS: Add data to a Google spreadsheet and import it into a template to display content
  • Sutori: Easy-to-use, visually appealing templates to create timelines with text and embedded content
  • Adobe Express: Simple, customizable templates for timelines

Michelle Balmeo

Michelle Balmeo, MJE, is the adviser of The Whirlwind newsmagazine and online news publication at West Albany High School in Albany, Ore. She's done some print stuff, some video stuff, and some web stuff over the past 16 years as a student media adviser.

Michelle Balmeo has 66 posts and counting. See all posts by Michelle Balmeo

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