Because University courses focus on communication through the written word, it is easy to overlook the importance of other ways to get your message across clearly and concisely. Yet there are many ways to express your ideas, and many choices for you to make. Indeed, issues of visual presentation cross-cut almost every form of communication.
When writing and presenting an essay, for example, it is important to consider the font you use and how you lay out text on the page. This is equally important when putting together a poster or PowerPoint presentation.
Images and illustrations can be used in many forms of written work and oral communication, and add another level of information for the audience.
It is equally important, though, to choose the best way of presenting or relaying numerical information and arguments to your particular audience. In many situations this may mean using graphs, tables or charts instead of writing long textual descriptions of your data and ideas.
Used well, visual information can greatly enhance the impact of your communication. Used poorly, it can confuse and mislead your audience, and muddle your message.
Have a look at the 301 Poster Presentation screencast for more information.
Working with Text and Layout
The key thing to remember is that regardless of whether it is to be printed, projected in PowerPoint or displayed on a website - text is intended to be read!
Your choice of typeface, type size, line length and layout – i.e. ‘design’ - should always help to lead your reader through the text and make it as easy as possible to find and understand the information. So working with text and layout is as much about thinking of what you are trying to convey, before starting to think about how it should look.
You don’t need to become an accomplished graphic designer to improve the presentation of your text. There are simple to follow basics and ‘handy hints’, and the resources here should provide you with enough information to help you work with text and layout more successfully.
‘Squinting’ at your layout (so that you cannot actually read the words) is also a good, simple check that you’re achieving what you want from the design - i.e. which pieces of text stand out most?
Use of Images and other Visual Material
It often claimed that “a picture paints a thousand words”, but only if you choose the right image in the right place. Images – photographs, illustrations, diagrams, screenshots, animations, or anything else – can add detail and depth to an argument. They can convey complex information in a relatively easily-accessible way, and offer audiences a different way of engaging with your ideas.
Just like the words that you choose, it is essential to think carefully about any images that you use in your work and to pay particular attention to the following:
How should I reference my image, to make sure its source is fairly acknowledged?
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