A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Visual Rhetoric

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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.

 

1.
#37035

Analysis of a Diagram

Just because you like something you created, it doesn't mean it's any good or you have a big ego. But it can be useful to stop and ponder something you did that you particularly like--so that you can understand your own design priorities a bit better.

Hughes, Michael A. Humane Experience, The (2010). Articles>User Experience>Technical Illustration>Visual Rhetoric

2.
#32332

An Analysis of Failed Queries for Web Image Retrieval   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper examines a large number of failed queries submitted to a web image search engine, including real users' search terms and written requests. The results show that failed image queries have a much higher specificity than successful queries because users often employ various refined types to specify their queries. The study explores the refined types further, and finds that failed queries consist of far more conceptual than perceptual refined types. The widely used content-based image retrieval technique, CBIR, can only deal with a small proportion of failed queries; hence, appropriate integration of concept-based techniques is desirable. Based on using the concepts of uniqueness and refinement for categorization, the study also provides a useful discussion on the gaps between image queries and retrieval techniques. The initial results enhance the understanding of failed queries and suggest possible ways to improve image retrieval systems.

Pu, Hsiao-Tieh. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Web Design>Visual Rhetoric>Search

3.
#31012

Annual Report Graphic Use: A Review of the Literature   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Corporate annual reports typically include a narrative section and a financial section. The narrative section is not scrutinized by auditors as the financial section is, yet many readers rely heavily on its graphs to estimate the firm's financial situation. However, the graphs often misrepresent the financial data. To better understand annual report graphs' important role, this article examines more than 25 years of literature related to these four areas: (a) the ways financial graphs are prepared, used, and misinterpreted; (b) differences by country; (c) regulatory influences for accountants; and (d) the parts formatting and media selection decisions play in communication interpretation and persuasion. Across the literature, the author notes consensus that annual report graphs are widely used in many countries and that there is rampant disregard for the guidelines for their accurate, non-misleading presentation. The article concludes with seven proposed directions for future research.

Penrose, John M. JBC (2008). Design>Document Design>Business Communication>Visual Rhetoric

4.
#23609

Assessing Visualizations in Public Science Presentations   (PDF)

Natural resource agencies and other technical and scientific organizations face an immense challenge of when communicating complex technical information to diverse publics. The laptop computer, presentation software, and projection unit have emerged as one of the primary presentation tools in many technical and scientific fields. Advances in software functions enable presenters to capitalize on a wide range of multimedia functions thought to make presentations more appealing, interesting, and effective. Our presentation reports on a specific research project and then provides guidance for enhancing their presentations.

Zimmerman, Donald E., Carol A. Akerelrea, Jane Kapler Smith and Garrett O'Keefe. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Presentations>Visual Rhetoric

5.
#38045

Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps Toward Rhetorical Analysis

Students are digital natives who spend their days saturated in rhetorical messages that they have learned to decode quite well – for example, they can easily size up an instructor within moments of walking into the classroom. As students look at various messages from fashion advertising to political campaigning, they often decode and make sound rhetorical conclusions about these messages. This chapter helps students understand the rhetorical skills they already possess, transfer these skills to classroom projects, and become familiar with basic terms of rhetorical analysis used in the academy.

Carroll, Laura Bolin. Writing Spaces (2010). Articles>Rhetoric>Visual Rhetoric>Education

6.
#31232

Being Good for Goodness' Sake: Corporate Social Responsibility Imagery

It sees you when you’re sleeping. It knows if you’re awake. 'It' is the world, and it knows if your company has been naughty or nice. The digital revolution has put a photographic device, be it a camera or camera-phone, in the hands of virtually everybody everywhere—so you can be sure someone besides Santa is constantly watching your company’s behavior. For that and other good reasons, corporate photography is looking very green this season.

Salvo, Suzanne. Communication World Bulletin (2007). Design>Graphic Design>Visual Rhetoric

7.
#36965

Beyond the Screen: Visualizing Visits to a Website as an Experience in Physical Space   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article describes an applied investigation into a concept of information visualization where data are not rendered as graphs, charts or diagrams on the screen but as a sensual experience beyond the screen in physical space. It introduces predecessors such as calm technologies and ambient displays among a number of poetic and applied examples from related backgrounds to establish the context and relevance for communication design and graphic design, and presents a current research undertaking in which the social activity of visiting a website is visualized in multiple sensorial modalities in real-time in the form of a kinetic and sensual display.

Hohl, Michael. Visual Communication (2009). Articles>Web Design>Visual Rhetoric>Log Analysis

8.
#18438

Blind and Low Vision Users

When we come to accessibility of web design, we will say that accessible web design is a sign of good web design. A lot of the information on the Web is not accessible to people with disabilities because of poor design. While many web site managers and developers accommodate various browser constraints, most of them do not realize that they are developing sites that people with disabilities have difficulty in navigating, or in many cases, cannot navigate at all.

Hung, Edward. Universal Usability. Design>Usability>Accessibility>Visual Rhetoric

9.
#36675

The C30 Project   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This C30 Project visual essay is a record and interrogation of a process that began in March 2007 and continues into 2008. Building on previous local artists in schools projects, artists David Andrew and Marcus Neustetter collaborated with learners, students and teachers at the P.J. Simelane Secondary School in Dobsonville, Soweto, South Africa, on a series of on-site interventions.

Andrew, David and Marcus Neustetter. Visual Communication (2008). Articles>Education>Visual Rhetoric>Africa

10.
#30012

Canonical Abstract Prototypes for Abstract Visual and Interaction Design   (PDF)

Abstract user interface prototypes offer designers a form of representation for specification and exploration of visual and interaction design ideas that is intermediate between abstract task models and realistic or representational prototypes. Canonical Abstract Prototypes are an extension to usage-centered design that provides a formal vocabulary for expressing visual and interaction designs without concern for details of appearance and behavior. A standardized abstract design vocabulary facilitates comparison of designs, eases recognition and simplifies description of common design patterns, and lays the foundations for better software tools. This paper covers recent refinements in the modeling notation and the set of Canonical Abstract Components. New applications of abstract prototypes to design patterns are discussed, and variations in software tools support are outlined.

Constantine, Larry L. Constantine and Lockwood (2003). Articles>User Interface>Interaction Design>Visual Rhetoric

11.
#30397

Clarifying Abstract Concepts Through Multimedia: Principles for Technical Communicators   (PDF)

Multimedia can sometimes convey meaning in ways that text and graphics alone cannot. This paper offers two principles for understanding how multimedia can clarify abstract concepts. The first principle is that multimedia is excellent for conveying any kind of change, such as change in quantity, size, shape, or relationship. The second principle is that multimedia can help present complex concepts by providing information in both the visual and auditory modes simultaneously. These principles can guide technical communicators in evaluating whether multimedia is a cost-effective way to present their information.

Garb, Rachel and Claudia M. Hunter. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>TC>Multimedia>Visual Rhetoric

12.
#24857

Color in Motion

An interactive experience of color communication and color symbolism.

Cortés, Claudia. mariaclaudiacortes.com (2003). Design>Graphic Design>Visual Rhetoric>Color

13.
#20575

Color: The Newest Tool for Technical Communicators   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Asserts that color must be used to make information clear, lucid, powerful—faster; its logical application must be controlled by the editor. Provides a comprehensive checklist to help editors use color effectively.

White, Jan V. Technical Communication Online (2003). Design>Graphic Design>Visual Rhetoric>Color

14.
#37975

Comic Books: An Evolving Multimodal Literacy

As comic books have struggled to be considered seriously alongside more conventional forms of literature, the nature of literacy itself has changed. In recent decades, theorists like Gee, Brandt, and Heath have steered away from notions of literacy as a set of fixed skills and proposed an alternative view: literacy as a culturally and contextually situated set of multimodal practices. What complicates our concept of literacy necessarily complicates our concept of literature. A reevaluation of the comic book in relation to new literacy studies is long overdue.

Quimby, Taylor. Xchanges (2010). Articles>Publishing>Visual Rhetoric

15.
#23927

Comment Intégrer les Visuels

En matière de visuels, même si la plupart des acquis des médias traditionnels restent valables, tels que les rapports sémiologiques entre le texte et l'image, certaines règles spécifiques devraient pouvoir s'appliquer à Internet.

Hardy, Jean-Marc. Redaction (2004). Design>Web Design>Visual Rhetoric

16.
#35094

Copywriting or Design: Which Gets the Best Results?

Designers believe that if something isn’t working well, and it comes down to changing the copy or the design, it’s always the copy that should be changed, reduced or sometimes nearly completely eliminated. How can I convince my designer co-workers that succinct, simple and memorable words can be just as important as the visuals?

Chartrand, James. Men With Pens (2009). Articles>Graphic Design>Writing>Visual Rhetoric

17.
#29511

Creating Effective Poster Presentations: An Effective Poster

An effective poster is not just a standard research paper stuck to a board. A poster uses a different, visual grammar. It shows, not tells.

Hess, George, Kathryn Tosney and Leon Liegel. North Carolina State University (2006). Design>Presentations>Posters>Visual Rhetoric

18.
#24978

Creating the Vision: Developing Graphic Strategies   (PDF)

Making documentation more visual is a two phase process. First comes the brainstorming, where ideas bubble up: the weird the funny, the wonderful, the breakthrough, the lame brain — no idea discriminated against, all equally enjoying the bright, spring air of the creative process. Once You begin to brainstorm you may find putting concepts into graphics is easier than you thought. Then comes the second phase: the hard realization that even if you throw out all the crazy ideas, you still have to pick and choose. You have to develop a strategy for graphic use, one that goes beyond the basic visual unity a good graphic designer can give a document. You have to see the graphics in light of the user's need.

Malone, Jacquelyn. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Documentation>Visual Rhetoric

19.
#24969

A Cross-Cultural Perspective on Visual Literacy Challenges for Technical Communicators   (PDF)

Many emerging nations have pre-technological cultures. These nations are striving to develop a new technological literacy that is heavily dependent on visual literacy, or the ability to 'read' images. This paper discusses some challenges for technical communicators in presenting technical graphics to users who are not fully functional in learned Western conventions and skills of pictorial representation, pictorial literacy, and pictorial perception aspects such as conceptualization, perspective and depth, scale, and analysis of component details.

Ausburn, Floyd B. and Lynna J. Ausburn. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Communication>Visual Rhetoric

20.
#22694

Dabbling in Document Design

One of the advantages that print journalists have is that they learn document design on the job. Today, thanks to computers and design packages, design awareness is very high. Even the novice computer user becomes proficient in designing documents within a few days, if not weeks. Usually, templates are available for brochures, reports, books, etc. All you need to do is fill in the contents in the readymade template.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2003). Articles>Document Design>Document Design>Visual Rhetoric

21.
#30687

Dam Visuals: The Changing Visual Argument for the Glen Canyon Dam   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Arguments manifest in scientific visuals through graphic representation, content placement, and overall document structure. These arguments, designed to influence public perception, change over time in relation to sociopolitical climate. Analysis of a series of documents constructed deliberately to influence perception can help to determine patterns of argumentation and perceived exigencies. In this article, four self-guided tour brochures produced for distribution to visitors to the Glen Canyon Dam in 1977, 1984, 1990, and 1993 are analyzed in order to identify rhetorical strategies designed to influence public perceptions of the dam site, and examine how public perception of the dam, and related argumentation, is structured by sociopolitical climate.

Ross, Derek G. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2007). Articles>Scientific Communication>Technical Illustration>Visual Rhetoric

22.
#37686

Dashboard Design 101

The explosion of information that analysts and executives must consume, as well as the increasing variety of sources from which that information comes, has boosted the popularity of information dashboards. Modeled after the dashboard of a car or airplane—which informs its operator about the status and operation of the vehicle they’re controlling at a glance—dashboard user interfaces provide a great deal of useful information to users at a glance. Typically, the role of an information dashboard is to quickly inform users and, thus, enable them to take immediate action.

Hughes, Michael A. UXmatters (2010). Articles>User Interface>Information Design>Visual Rhetoric

23.
#29335

The Data Artist

Tufte shares Orwell's impatience with doublethink and humbuggery, his insight that bad thinking and bad expression travel in a pair, and his awareness that they are usually deployed in the service of some brand of propaganda.

Rosenberg, Scott. Salon (1997). Articles>Interviews>Visual Rhetoric>Charts and Graphs

24.
#29232

Decorative Color as a Rhetorical Enhancement on the World Wide Web   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Professional communication scholars have defined the decorative narrowly and subordinated it to informational text. Yet, current psychological research indicates that decorative elements elicit emotion-laden reactions that may precede cognitive awareness and influence interpretation of images. We conceive the decorative in design, and specifically color, as a complex rhetorical phenomenon. Applying decorative and color theory and analyzing design examples illustrating aesthetic, ethical, and logical appeals, we present a range of potential uses for color in electronic media.

Richards, Anne R. and Carol David. Technical Communication Quarterly (2005). Design>Web Design>Visual Rhetoric>Color

25.
#22685

Design and Impressions

Design is subjective: You can't please all of the people all of the time.

Will-Harris, Daniel. eFuse (2000). Design>Web Design>Rhetoric>Visual Rhetoric

 
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