Twc Chapter 17 Visual Rhetoric And Technical Communication


The author in chapter 17 from the book, Technical Writing for CCNY, discusses the idea of visual rhetoric and technical communication very detailed.
When we talk about visual rhetoric the first idea that links into our minds it the simply the word "visual(s)." Indeed, visual rhetoric means the methods in which we use visuals to convey ideas, therefore, increases the understanding or the readers. Although we can use visuals to express meanings in everything, but when it comes to workplaces visuals should be use properly. The author outlines a set of questions which is useful to choose a design in a workplace.

  • Should I use a visual? (Stating the importance the use of visuals [designs] in a workplace)
  • What kind of visual should I use? (Very important: One must know the information one wants to convey to its readers)
  • What should the visual look like? (There should be clear connection between the information being transmitted and the image)
  • Where should the visual be placed in the document? (The purpose of the visual depends on the type of document)
  • How should visual and written elements relate to one another? (Connection should be clear for the audience)
  • How should the document look? (This depends on the type of document)
  • What form should the document take? (The form of documents depends on its designated audience)

In fact, the use of visuals increase the comprehension of the reader (audience). Most of the time, visuals carry a lot of information that the writer needs to show in order to portray information that can be easily seen by the reader as opposed to long text descriptions. Moreover, the author creates sub components in which comprehension in the visuals (major component) are discussed in depth; they are: Clarification, Illustration, and Organization.

Under the clarification sub component, the author portrays the idea that "visuals often clarify difficult concepts, abstract information, and detailed processes and procedures by providing an easy-to-see reference" (p. 509). In fact, people often need to see images in order to fully grasp the concept of something that is being discussed.

In addition, in the illustration sub component considers the use of visuals to highlight the "key information for readers" (p. 509). This type of highlighted illustration (information) through visuals are mainly use in presentations.

Moreover, the author talks about the visuals in the form of "charts, tables, white space, or bullets" (p. 509) in the sub component of organization. Indeed, this form of visual helps the information to be kept organized and very clear to be understood by its audience.

The author discusses the importance and impact of visuals under another major component, Getting Attention. The use of visuals get our immediate attention whether it is display in the streets (traffic lights, graffiti, etc.) or in textbooks or magazines. Therefore, emphasis and highlighting are two sub components for getting attention.

The emphasis sub component focuses on the key information that it is transmitted through to the visual to the audience. For instance, in typography, the use of different font, size, CAPITALIZATION, color, italics, etc. demonstrates the level of importance of the text.

In addition, under highlighting (sub component), the author establishes that by "highlighting specific information" in a visual the readers are able to identify the specific information needed to understand with ease (p.509).

Furthermore, in chapter 17, the author demonstrates the types of visuals one can use for the variety of written elements. Since visuals can play an important role in a document, one must know the amount of information one wants the visual to convey to its designated audience. The authors discusses in depth the different types of visuals, and how to use them effectively.

Types of Images
Using Color Effectively
Types of Graphics
Finding, Capturing, Creating, and Formatting Visuals
Guidelines for Using Visuals
Ethics and Visuals

These are the topics the author discusses in depth in order to help anyone with successfully using visuals in their next written element.


"Visual rhetoric refers to the ways visuals communicate meaning to readers." (p. 507)

"Appropriate visuals can help audiences in many ways…" (p. 508)

"The visual problem-solving approach helps workplace writers make careful rhetorical decisions." (p. 508)

"Visuals can highlight specific information." (p. 510)

"Vector graphics is a method of storing visuals based on a concept of paths, which refer to basic geometrical shapes like lines, curves, circles, polygons, and points." (p. 524)

"Color plays a crucial role in providing readers with information." (p. 526)


Indeed, the type of visuals carry important information that can be easily accessed by the audience. For instance, artists create artwork or visual based on expressions and emotions that can relate a complete story, world history events, or even personal life events. This artwork or visual can be composed of colors, geometric figures, lines, vectors, pattern, etc.

We agree with the author, that visuals do increase the level of understanding of the audience. For example, in math there are problems in which it requires visualization using graphs or sketches of the problem to understand it better. Indeed, visuals can easily show the information needed to be understood as opposed to writing a long text about it. Visualization also applies to physics or any other field in the sciences/mathematics. Students often need to visualize these concepts in order for them to grasp the concept thoroughly. An example of understanding through visuals is the Doppler Effect.

*Doppler Effect: If a source of light (wave) is approaching you, the waves will pile up in front of it, therefore, the wavelengths will be shorter, meaning there will be higher frequency. This means that the waves behind will spread out, and the wavelengths will be longer, meaning lower frequency.

Visuals of the Doppler Effect:

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