Module 25 - Using Visuals
Teaching Tip: Use Figure 25.3 (p. 421) to show students the different kinds of bar
charts that exist, including grouped bar charts, segmented, subdivided or stacked
bars, deviation bar charts, paired bar charts, and histograms or pictograms. Divide
students into groups of 3-5 students each and have them explain the basic qualities of
these charts to the rest of the class.
As PP 25-15 shows, to use line graphs effectively, writers should
Label both horizontal and vertical axes.
When time is a variable, put it on the horizontal axis.
Avoid using more than three different lines on one graph. Even
three lines may be too many if they cross each other.
Avoid using perspective. Perspective makes the values harder to
read and can make comparison difficult.
As suggested here, writers should use the specific visual that best expresses the data they have.
They should avoid mixing and matching types, instead using the particular visual that fits their
Can I use color and clip art? LO 25-4
Use color carefully.
Avoid decorative clip art in memos and reports.
Help students to resist the temptation to use color entirely for decorative purposes by reminding
them of cultural interpretations of color (see p. 45). In fact, though computer programs offer
almost limitless palettes of colors, writers must carefully choose the colors they use, as well as
Teaching Tip: To show cultural differences, ask students to name characters in
movies or television programs where colors are especially important in suggesting
the nature of the character. A good example might be Star Wars, where
blonde-haired hero Luke Skywalker dresses entirely in white, while the masked and
villainous Darth Vader is draped entirely in black. Ask students who’ve seen this
film or others whether they were conscious of the strong use of color. If not, did
they still understand the natures of the characters? What does this suggest about the
subconscious effects of color? Would these characters make sense to people outside
of western cultures?
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