Simply put, visual rhetoric is the use of visuals and visual elements (e.g., fonts and color) to communicate a message. If you are teaching your students how to create visually appealing messages, you are already incorporating visual rhetoric in your bcomm classroom. If you want to extend that discussion of visual rhetoric beyond the use of appropriate margins and headings, here are some resources that may help.
The Purdue Online Writing Lab provides several pages on visual rhetoric that address topics such as understanding the concept of visual rhetoric, choosing fonts, placing elements on a page, and using color theory.
My other favorite sources include the following:
- John McWade’s books Before and After: How to Design Cool Stuff and Before and After Page Design (The information and examples on typography are particularly fantastic in Before and After Page Design, but really, I could spend hours looking at and talking about all of the examples in both books.)
- Before and After magazine (free and subscription-based downloads on a variety of design topics)
- International Visual Literacy Association (links to several resources and articles on visual rhetoric)
- Amy Propen’s visualRhetoricPortal
- Can You Spot the Hidden Images in These Famous Logos? (an article about famous company logos that have images embedded in them such as the arrow between the “E” and “x” in the FedEx logo)
There are also quite literally hundreds of scholarly publications available on the topic. Some that you may find helpful in exploring theoretical and pedagogical perspectives on visual rhetoric and visual rhetoric in business professions include
- Brumberger, Eva R. “Visual Rhetoric in the Curriculum: Pedagogy for a Multimodal Workplace.” Business Communication Quarterly 68 (2005): 318-333, print.
- Campelo, Adriana, Robert Aitken and Juergen Gnoth. “Visual Rhetoric and Ethics in Marketing of Destinations.” Journal of Travel Research 50 (2011): 3-14, print.
- Davison, Jane. “Icon, Iconography, Iconology: Visual Branding, Banking, and the Case of the Bowler Hat.” Accounting, Auditing, and Accountability Journal 22.6 (2009): 883-906, print.
- Lauer, Claire and Christopher A. Sanchez. “Visuospatial Thinking in the Professional Writing Classroom.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 25 (2011): 184-218, print.
Discussing visual rhetoric early in your course and adding a “visual rhetoric” category to a grading rubric are great ways to reinforce the importance of visually appealing and accessible documents. If you have sources on visual rhetoric or suggestions on how to teach and assess students’ use and understanding of visual rhetoric, please share them with us.