Monday, February 2, 2009

High School/College Topic: Using Visual Cues in Writing

10-second review: The writer can attract the reader by using visual cues.

Title: “Seeing the Text.” SA Bernhardt. College Composition and Communication (February 1986), 66-78. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Students study the visual cues they find in textbooks and other publications including advertisements that are attractive to readers and then apply them to their own writing. Charts. Diagrams. Varied sizes of paragraphs and text. Use of boldface headings. Placement of a relevant picture. Use of bullets. Columns.

The author has a good idea, but the majority of his own text is plain with practically monotonous paragraph size. He does offer two demonstrations of text taken from a textbook with visual cues that would interest readers.

Comment: Teachers and students should collect examples of text with attractive visual cues. Writing teachers should encourage students to experiment with visual cues. Another technique I wish I had used when I was teaching. With today’s computers and publishing programs, these techniques are easy to apply. RayS.

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