Definition Definition

What Is Information? Characteristics, Types and Sources of Information

What Is Information?

Information can be broadly defined as data that has been processed and organized in a way that makes it meaningful and valuable. 

Understanding the Term

Making educated judgments, finding solutions to issues, and increasing knowledge all depend on information. In both personal and professional contexts, the quality and availability of it can make a significant difference.

Information that is accurate and pertinent is essential for making effective decisions. Businesses, governments, and individuals all make better choices when they have access to high-quality data. The world of information is ever-evolving. Advancements in artificial intelligence, big data, and information-technology promise to reshape how we generate, access, and utilize it.

Characteristics of information

Recognizing and embracing good attributes of information helps ensure that it serves as a valuable asset in the decision-making process, ultimately leading to more informed and effective choices.

All good information has the following characteristics:


The value and usefulness of information are highly subjective, because what is information for one person may not be for another. The need to adapt it to the particular needs and tastes of the intended audience is highlighted by this subjectivity.


It is good only if it is relevant - that is, pertinent and meaningful to the decision maker.  In other words, it must be directly related to the concerns and decisions of the individual or entity using it.

Irrelevant information can lead to confusion and inefficiency in decision-making, so it's crucial to ensure that it provided is pertinent and meaningful to the intended recipient.


Information must be delivered at the right time and the right place to the right person. The significance of it often diminishes over time, so delivering it promptly is essential to make it useful for decision-making. Information that is out of current or delayed might lead to missed opportunities or poor decisions.


It must be free of errors because erroneous information can result in poor decisions and erode the confidence of users.

Accurate knowledge can prevent bad judgments from being made and damage the trust of people who rely on it. Therefore, it should be free of errors, mistakes, or distortions to ensure it provides a trustworthy foundation for decision-making.

Correct information format

It must be in the right format to be useful to the decision-maker. This format can vary depending on the context, but it should align with the preferences and requirements of the recipient. Whether it's text, numbers, graphs, or multimedia, the format should support effective understanding and interpretation.


Information is said to be complete if the decision-maker can satisfactorily solve the problem at hand using that information. Incompleteness can lead to incomplete decisions, so ensuring all relevant aspects are included is essential.


Information is useless if it is not readily accessible to decision-makers, in the desired format, when it is needed.

The decision-makers must have immediate access to it whenever they need it in the preferred format. Easy access to information is essential for making educated decisions and maintaining competitiveness in the fast-paced world of today.

Types of Information with Examples

Information can be classified into four main types. Understanding these four types — can help individuals navigate the vast amount of data and knowledge available in today's information-rich world. 

  • Factual
  • Analytical
  • Subjective
  • Objective

Factual Information

Factual information consists of verifiable, concrete data that is based on reality and can be confirmed by empirical evidence. This type provides clear, unambiguous details without any interpretation or personal bias. 

This type is typically objective and can be used to establish a common understanding of reality.

Example: According to the 2020 census, there are about 8.4 million people living in New York City.

Analytical Information

Analytical information involves the interpretation and evaluation of facts and data to draw conclusions, make inferences, or provide insights. It requires critical thinking and often presents various perspectives on a given topic, encouraging readers to think critically.

Example: The increase in global temperatures over the last century, as observed through climate data, suggests a strong correlation with human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, leading to concerns about climate change.

Subjective Information

Subjective information is influenced by personal feelings, opinions, or interpretations. It often reflects an individual's perspective and may not be universally agreed upon. This type can vary from person to person and is not necessarily based on concrete evidence.

Example: In my opinion, chocolate ice cream is the most delicious dessert because of its rich, creamy texture and delightful taste.

Objective Information

Objective information is characterized by a lack of personal bias or emotional influence. It aims to present facts and data without personal opinions or interpretations. This type is often considered the most reliable and is used in fields like science and journalism to maintain credibility and neutrality.

Example: Water's chemical formula is H2O, which consists of two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms. It is widely acknowledged and practically verifiable that this is true.

Source of Information

There are a number of different sources to choose from when acquiring information, each with a different function. These sources can be categorized into three main types: primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. 

Primary Sources

Primary sources are the most direct and original forms of information. They are created or generated by individuals or entities directly involved in the events, research, or experiences being documented. Examples of primary sources include:

  • Interviews and surveys
  • Diaries and journals
  • Archival materials
  • Research data

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are created by individuals or organizations that analyze, interpret, or summarize primary sources and other secondary materials. They provide an overview or commentary on a topic. Examples of secondary sources include:

  • Books
  • Articles
  • Documentary films
  • Biographies

Tertiary Sources

Reference resources known as tertiary sources gather and synthesize data from primary and secondary sources. They are designed to provide quick access to facts and general knowledge. Examples of tertiary sources include:

  • Encyclopedias
  • Dictionaries
  • Almanacs
  • Websites and online databases
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