A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Visual rhetoric is the study of how document design (including the use of illustrations, charts and graphs, typography and layout) communicate, as opposed to aural or verbal messages. Visual rhetoric examines also the relationship between images and writing.



Journal of Rhetoric, Professional Communication, and Globalization   (peer-reviewed)

This Journal publishes articles on the theory, practice, and teaching of technical and professional communication in critical global contexts such as business, manufacturing, law, health, technology, environment, and others. The Journal concentrates on the intercultural dimensions of professional communication across a range of professional, technical, and cultural contexts and using various communication media. As a global initiative, the journal welcomes manuscripts with diverse approaches and contexts of research, but manuscripts are to be submitted in English and grounded in relevant theory and appropriate research methods.

RPCG. Journals>Business Communication>Rhetoric>Globalization


Kairos   (peer-reviewed)

Kairos is a refereed online journal exploring the intersections of rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy. In Kairos, we publish 'webtexts,' which are texts authored specifically for publication on the World Wide Web. These webtexts include scholarly examinations of large-scale issues related to special topics, individual and collaborative reviews of books and media, news and announcements of interest, interactive exchanges about previous Kairos publications, and extended interviews with leading scholars. With Kairos, we seek to push boundaries in academic publishing at the same time we strive to bridge the gap between print and digital publishing cultures. We further seek to bring forward and support the voices of those too often marginalized in the academy, especially graduate students and adjunct and other part-time faculty.

Kairos. Journals>Rhetoric>Technology


Kairosnews   (peer-reviewed)

Kairosnews is an open community of members interested in the intersections of rhetoric, technology and pedagogy. Visitors can create an account, submit a story, join in the many discussions by posting comments, or read the news gathered from other sites by our aggregator. Members can also subscribe to a daily email newsletter of updated site content.

Kairos. Resources>Writing>Rhetoric>Blogs


Kairosnews Weblink Directory   (peer-reviewed)

A collection of links to websites in rhetoric and technical communication.

Kairos. Resources>Directories>TC>Rhetoric


Karen A. Schriver: The InfoDesign interview

Karen Schriver is the author of Dynamics in Document Design: Creating texts for readers, an extensive, multidimensional portrait of what readers need from documents and of ways to integrate word and image in order to better meet those needs. She is the former co-director of the graduate program in technical communication and document design at Carnegie Mellon University. Her company, KSA Document Design and Research, helps organizations improve the quality of their paper and electronic communications through strategies based on research and best practices.

Bogaards, Peter J. InformationDesign (2005). Articles>Interviews>Document Design>Visual Rhetoric


Keeping the Rhetoric Orthodox: Forum Control in Science   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Academic disciplines certify knowledge through publication in scholarly journals; therefore, peer review of journal articles is one method of authorizing someone’s speech.  It is possible, however, to see peer review and other strategies as methods by which elites silence or de-authorize voices that pose a threat to their status.  This article discusses four methods of forum control--peer review, denial of forum, public correction, and published ridicule.  Examples are drawn from cases in science.

Sullivan, Dale L. Technical Communication Quarterly (2000). Articles>Scientific Communication>Rhetoric


Keys to Being a Trusted Source of Information

The issue of building trust with the audience is core to technical communication. If the user doesn’t trust your instruction, it’s worthless—no matter how well researched, thought out, and reviewed it is and how much time, effort, or problems it will save.

Minson, Benjamin. Gryphon Mountain (2009). Articles>Web Design>Rhetoric


Layout as Punctuation of Semiosis: Some Examples from Israeli Schoolbooks   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article examines the function of layout in the representation of the Palestinian--Israeli conflict in three history textbooks used in Israeli schools. The analysis elaborates on two concepts of Kress and Van Leeuwen -- `ideological layout' and `punctuation of semiosis'. The author argues that layout may `punctuate' semiosis in two different senses: first, in the sense of `bringing (conventional--official) semiosis to a temporary standstill in textual form'; and, second, in the sense of `piercing a hole' in the conventional or official semiosis it presents, and thereby criticizing it. In both cases, layout creates new complex signs that either support or contradict the verbal and visual texts it presents. This study suggests that layout analysis may help answer larger questions concerning `the transformation of social practices into discourses about social practices in specific institutional contexts' (Van Leeuwen, 1996). The discussion of the means by which these punctuations are achieved and the messages they convey is followed by reflections upon the difficulties students and teachers may have in reading such multimodal texts.

Peled-Elhanan, Nurit. Visual Communication (2009). Articles>Document Design>Visual Rhetoric


Leadership, Rhetoric and the Polis   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article argues that leadership and rhetoric are intimately connected; therefore, rhetoric should include the explicit examination of all aspects of leadership (that is, including but not limited to rhetorical criticism of the speeches and writings of leaders), both as an area of research and an area of pedagogy. This is particularly important when helping students become active members of the citizenry is seen a central goal of what teachers are doing in the English or Communication class. The interconnections between leadership and the concept of the polis, the active assembly of citizens empowered to discuss and make public policy, is useful here, even though the polis may no longer exist in its original form. In particular, leadership through identification with the polis appears to be an approach with great potential.

Gellis, Mark. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2002). Articles>Rhetoric>Management


Learn Logic

Divide the fallacies listed equally among group members. Members must write a page on each of their assigned fallacies, explaining them clearly and providing at least five examples. Each site provides some examples already; you may use three examples from the site, but must find at least two examples from everyday usage. You may look in newspapers, on TV, or on other Web sites that do not deal with logical fallacies. Take turns reading each report to your group.

Lannon, John M. Pearson Education (2003). Academic>Course Materials>Rhetoric


Learn the Techniques of Writing Before You Write

Writing is an art form. You must understand this art form before you can begin to challenge yourself and grow. Not many people would pick up a cello and start playing right away, without any knowledge of the basics of music, but the same does not hold true with writing. In fact, many people perceive writing to be some sort of inherent talent, without the need for training and hard work. Of course, some writers have a natural gift for creating structured and meaningful works with only minimal revision, but these are the exception rather than the rule.

McKay, Carolyn. Writer's Block (1996). Articles>Writing>Rhetoric


Learning to Link Artifact and Value: The Arguments of Student Designers   (PDF)

The article explores the relationship between design and rhetoric. From the "Language and Learning Across the Disciplines" series, part of the "Writing Across the Curriculum" website at CSU.

Fleming, David. LLAD (1997). Articles>Rhetoric


Learning to Love PowerPoint

I began to see PowerPoint as a metaprogram, one that organizes and presents stuff created in other applications. Initially, I made presentations about presentations; they were almost completely without content. The content, I learned, was in the medium itself. I discovered that I could attach my photographs, short videos, scanned images, and music. What's more, the application can be made to run by itself -no one even needs to be at the podium. How fantastic!

Byrne, David. Wired (2003). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric>Microsoft PowerPoint


Learning to Speak With, Not To, Readers

I think that most journalists prefer giving lectures to having conversations. But today it seems clear to me that the creative-writing class was the more valuable experience. As tough as it was, I learned more in that 'conversation' than I could ever have learned in my own lecture.

Conley, Paul. Blogger.com (2006). Articles>Writing>Rhetoric


Lenguaje Visual

El lenguaje escrito no es más que un caso particular del lenguaje visual. En realidad hay muchos lenguajes visuales que parecen tener reglas en común. Pensar en el lenguaje visual nos puede ayudar a transmitir nuestros mensajes de forma más efectiva.

Dursteler, Juan Carlos. InfoVis (2003). (Spanish) Articles>Language>Visual Rhetoric>Technical Illustration


Let It Flow

To become a more fluent writer, try these strategies.

Poynter Online (2004). Articles>Writing>Rhetoric


Letters and the Social Grounding of Differentiated Genres   (peer-reviewed)

Several times in my research over the years, I have noticed letters playing a role in the emergence of distinctive genres: the early scientific article emerging from the correspondence of Hans Oldenburg, the first editor of the Philosophic Transactions of the Royal Society; the patent, originally known as letters patent; stockholders' reports evolving from letters to stockholders; and internal corporate reporting and record forms regularizing internal corporate correspondence. was not the first to notice any of these; however, in putting the four cases together, it struck me that these may be part of a more general pattern. As I pursued the thought that letters might have a special role in genre formation, many other examples of genres with strong connections to correspondence came to my attention, including newspapers and other periodicals, financial instruments such as bills of exchange and letters of credit, books of the New Testament, papal encyclicals, and novels. The letter, in its directness of communication between two parties within a specific relationship in specific circumstances (all of which could be commented on directly), seemed to provide a flexible medium out of which many functions, relationships, and institutional practices might develop--making new uses socially intelligible at the same time as allowing the form of the communication to develop in new directions.

Bazerman, Charles. UCSB. Articles>Rhetoric>Correspondence>Genre


Listen Up!: Speech Recognition's Impact on Communication, Rhetoric, and Interface

Look around the computer screen on which you're viewing this document. Do you see a keyboard and mouse a short distance away? These two traditional input devices have become so deeply entrenched as the established human-computer interface that they are inseparable from our notion of the 'computing experience.' Yet in many ways, keyboards and mice only make our experiences with computers more unnatural, forcing us into modes of interaction that we would never use with other people. In other words, they make humans interact with machines, rather than machines with humans.

Propper, Ryan. Stanford University (2005). Articles>User Interface>Rhetoric>Voice


Literature Review: What is Visual Literacy?   (PDF)

This paper takes a look at what is being said in various disciplines (technical writing, journalism, education, psychology, user interface design, and visual arts) in an attempt to answer the question 'What is visual literacy?' A corollory is 'How will I know when I have achieved it?' A working definition of visual literacy has many implications for how we train technical writers in order to meet the professional challenges of the future.

Couse, Mary M. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Graphic Design>Research>Visual Rhetoric


Little Machines: Rearticulating Hypertext Users

In recognizing ourselves as computer users, we are also articulated (at least partially) as the used, the variable piece of the machine that closes the circuit, like a key in the ignition of a car. We are happiest when our technologies when they work automatically, when the machine appears to anticipate our every desire. The machine is never completely absent from our attention, but it is becoming increasingly difficult--pointless, it seems--to think critically about the operations of the machine and our position within it. We don't think often about the ways in which the technology (and the larger, social technical system) construct users in ways that presuppose a simple, mechanistic model of efficiency and value. If the programmers have done their work well, we reason, then we shouldn't have to think. Functional hypertexts (online documention, references, tutorials) are defined, socially and politically, in this politics of amnesia.

Johnson-Eilola, Johndan. Clarkson University (1995). Articles>Rhetoric>Hypertext


The Logical and Rhetorical Construction of Procedural Discourse    (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

A very useful perspective for understanding procedural ('how to') discourse and for writing better procedures is to view procedures as a framework of actions and states. The states include desired (goal) states and unwanted states; the actions are user actions, system actions, and external events. This framework underlies all kinds of procedural discourse, including streamlined-step procedures, the model that predominates in online help systems. The components that make up streamlinedstep procedures are best understood as combinations of actions and states. Procedural discourse is also highly rhetorical in nature. We can see the rhetorical implications of actions and states in the various models of procedural discourse, and in specific strategies that writers implement. Because of its terse and rigid nature, the streamlinedstep model is not well suited for certain rhetorical strategies and cognitive goals, and so while recognizing the efficiency of the streamlined-step model, writers should not neglect more

Farkas, David K. Technical Communication Online (1999). Articles>Documentation>Rhetoric


London Through Rose-Colored Graphics: Visual Rhetoric and Information Graphic Design in Charles Booth's Maps of London Poverty   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In this article, I examine a historical information graphic--Charles Booth's maps of London poverty (1889-1902)--to analyze the cultural basis of ideas of transparency and clarity in information graphics. I argue that Booth's maps derive their rhetorical power from contemporary visual culture as much as from their scientific authority. The visual rhetoric of the maps depended upon an ironic inversion of visual culture to make poverty seem a problem that could be addressed, rather than an insurmountable crisis. This visual rhetoric led directly to significant features of and concepts in western societies, including the poverty line and universal old-age pensions (social security).

Kimball, Miles A. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2006). Articles>Graphic Design>Visual Rhetoric>Geography


A Longinian Concept and Methodology for Technical Communication   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The rhetorician Longinus advises writers to 'transport' their readers by aligning the readers' perspective with the writer's.  The methods for transport are five 'fountains': high thought, emotional appeals, figures of speech, notable language, and arrangement.  This essay develops a Longinian concept and methodology for technical communication by comparing his ideas to current  scholarship and then applying them to two technical texts.  It shows how and why technical writers employ stylistic elements to achieve transport.

Todd, Jeff. Technical Communication Quarterly (1998). Articles>Rhetoric>TC


Lore: An E-Journal for Teachers of Writing

Lore is an e-journal for adjuncts and graduate students who teach writing at colleges and universities. This journal is designed to provide a forum for sharing knowledge, building communities, and voicing concerns about what happens in the classroom.

Bedford-St. Martin's. Journals>Education>Rhetoric>Writing


LORE: Rhetoric, Writing, Culture

'Lore' allues to Stephen North's idea of 'practitioner lore,' or the important traditions of teaching and research which seldom make their way into publishing writing. This journal seeks to publish such underrepresented work.

Lore. Journals>Education>Rhetoric



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