The aesthetic choices
we make with our
writing, makes us feel a
certain way, therefore
attaching itself by association
to the meaning of the words
on the page.
Especially since writing has
become digital, our
expectations for how it
should look and our options
to do so have grown.
The point can be made that
pieces of writing, such as college
assignments, are kept formatted
and plain to keep track of length
and avoid any distraction from the
ideas by which you are being
But, ANY format sparks an emotion,
even the black text
on the white paper.
And after a while,
it’s time to step
outside the box
There is a negative
stigma attached to the
use of images within
writing that we want to
be taken seriously.
Yet by discouraging the
emphasis on the way words
look on a page and the use
of graphics along with those
words, we ignore how
much more information can
be obtained through visual
What is Visual Literacy?
Clearly defining what visual
literacy actually is becomes difficult
when we see how much it applies to the
way we see the world, but for the
purposes of this presentation, I turn to
the field of document design.
Just as chefs are
judged on the visual
aspect of food
the field of document
design shows that writing
is thought of in a similar light.
doc⋅u⋅ment de⋅sign [n. dok-yuh-muhnt di-zahyn]
“Document design is the field concerned with creating
texts, that is books, of prose, graphics (including illustrations
and photography) and typography for purposes of
pamphlets, posters and others that integrate words and
pictures in ways that help people to achieve their specific
goals for using texts at home, school, or work. It is the
bringing together instruction, information [and]
In the past, it was
common to see pictures
in adult literature for the
same reason stained
glass in churches depicts
the stories from the bible;
reiteration so a greater
comprehend the ideas.
McCloud's Understanding Comics
defines seven distinct categories of
combinations of words and pictures
1. Word specific, where quot;pictures illustrate, but don't significantly add to
a largely complete text.quot;
2. Picture specific, where quot;words do little more than add a soundtrack to
a visually told sequence.quot;
3. Duo-specific, where quot;both words and pictures send essentially the
4. Additive, where quot;words amplify and elaborate on an image or vice
5. Parallel, where quot;words and pictures seem to follow very different
courses-- without intersecting.quot;
6. Montage, where quot;words are treated as integral parts of the picture.quot;
7. Interdependent, where quot;words and pictures go hand in hand to
convey an idea that neither could convey alone.quot;
More can be expressed when
the “look” of the words is
taken into consideration.
So the question for you is…
How can this be utilized
in your school assignments?
A simple break from habitual centering and an
incorporation of small images is one place to start.
Here are some
So I hope I’ve inspired you to start
considering the many visual aspects of
writing. Technology is increasingly
offering us more and more options for
our text and making the right choices
with those options can allow you to do
more with the words on your page.