In this lecture we will learn to:
•Look for places where visual aids will help you achieve
your communication objectives
•Choose visual aids appropriate to your objectives
•Make your visual aids easy to understand and use
•Fully integrate your visual aids with your prose
More than Just Aids:
•In some situations, visual aids can carry the entire
•For instance, if you’ve ever flown, you may recall reaching
into the pocket on the back of
the seat ahead of you to pullout a sheet of instructions for
leaving the plane in an
•Many airlines use sheets that are wordless.
Computers and Visual Aids:
•For instance, if you are using a program to make a line
graph, you will still have to decide
which variable to place on the horizontal axis and which on
the vertical axis.
•You will still have to decide what intervals to use for
your variables, and what your labels
places where visual aids will help you achieve your communication
first step in using visual aids effectively is to search
actively for places where they can help
you achieve your communication objectives.
Clarify the relationships among numerical data:
•On the job, you may need to describe the relationships
among various pieces of data,
which may be from laboratory research, surveys etc.
•Visual aids can help you make those relationships
immediately clear to your readers using
graphs and other visual techniques.
Support your arguments:
•You can also use visual aids to present information in
support of your persuasive points.
•For example, the manufacturer of a plastic insulating
material can use visual aids like
graphs to persuade greenhouse owners of the comparable
effects of different kinds of
Make detailed information easy to find:
•For many tasks ,visual aids are much easier than prose for
readers to use.
•For example, a manufacturer of photographic film wants to
inform trainees of the length of
time they should leave the film in the developer solution.
•Since the time depends on several factors like tank size,
temperature etc, the information
can be conveyed effectively by using a simple table.
Consider your readers’ tasks:
•Different visual aids are suited to different reading
tasks, often the same information can be
presented in many different ways.
•For instance, Ben has collected information on the starting
salaries of people who
graduated from three different departments.
•Which visual aid should he use?
Consider your readers' attitudes:
•In addition to thinking about your readers’ tasks, you
should also look to pick the type of
visual aid that most quickly and dramatically communicates
the evidence that supports your
•For instance, showing the effect of a decrease in revenue
in a line graph is much more
suitable than a tabular form which requires the readers to
do a lot of subtracting to
appreciate the extent of the decrease.
•Although they are very informative to people who understand
the symbols and conventions
used, they will only baffle others.
•Be especially careful to avoid making the mistake of
assuming your potential readers know
how to read specialized figures.
Make your visual aids simple:
•Avoid the temptations of cramming too much information into
your visual aids.
•Sometimes, two or three visual aids can communicate the
same information more
effectively than one.
•Simplifying visual aids also means removing unnecessary
Label the important content clearly:
•While it is important for you to eliminate unnecessary
details form your visual aids, it is also
critical to include labels for the important content.•Labels
also help people know what they
are seeing when they read a figure.
Provide Informative Titles:
•Titles help your audience find the visual aids they are
looking for and know what the visual
aids contain when they find them.
•To help your audience understand and use your visual aids,
you should make the
descriptive part of your titles as brief – yet informative –
•Titles typically include both a number and a description.
•Visual aids are numbered consecutively, either in one long
sequence through the entire
communication, or with a new sequence in each chapter.
•According to custom, the numbers assigned to figures are
usually Arabic (1,2,3..) while
numbers assigned to tables are either Arabic or Roman (I,
•You should note that sometimes you
need to provide a title for a visual aid.
•That happens, for instance, when you are including a very
short table in your text in a way
that makes perfectly clear what it contains.
•Similarly, the visual aids in brochures are often untitled,
though they are much rarer in
reports and proposals.
Fully integrate your visual aids with your prose:
•You should integrate your visual aid with your prose so
that they work together
harmoniously to create a single, unified message.
•Three ways to do that are:
–to introduce your visual aids in your prose
–State the conclusions you want your readers to draw
–Make your visual aids easy to find
Introduce your visual aids in your prose:
•Sometimes, your introduction to a visual aid will have to
include information your readers or
listeners need in order to understand or use the visual aid.
•Whatever kind of introduction you make to a visual aid,
place it at the exact point where you
would like your readers to focus their attention to it.
State the conclusions you want you readers to draw:
•You might find it helpful to think of the sentences in
which you explain a visual aid’s
significance as a special kind of topic sentence.
•Just as the topic sentence at the head of a paragraph, you
can tell your audience the point
to be derived from the various facts that follow.
Make your visual aids easy to find:
•If you place the figure farther away than that (for
instance in an appendix), you can help
your readers by providing the number of the page on which
the figure may found.
A detailed sketch of this region of the new building’s floor
plan is shown in Figure 17
in Appendix C (page 53)