Texts are forms of nonverbal (or not exclusively verbal) communication aimed at a particular audience. They are always expressions of some set of goals or purposes. They can contain visual elements, sound, textual elements, graphic elements, and even textures (think of a book of fabric samples). There is a vast array of tools to help you communicate whatever you wish to any audience you choose. Reaching a large audience has never been easier, but the very fact that you may be communicating with many different kinds of people creates new challenges for you as a communicator. Providing clear, easy-to-access texts is critical. Being clear about your message is vitally important. Just as there’s never before been an audience as vast and diverse as the global internet, there’s never been a greater chance that you will be ignored, misinterpreted, misunderstood, criticized, or even trolled. If you adhere to basic design principles, at least you will be safe from the most basic kinds of criticism aimed at confusing PowerPoint presentations, distractingly busy web sites, or cheesy-looking brochures.
Content is like water—it takes on the shape of whatever you pour it into. Therefore, the container that holds your text does matter. However, content is also like water in another sense. If it’s no good, no one will want to drink it down. It won’t quench anyone’s thirst for knowledge, for instructions, for information. Good content, a focused, clear purpose, and careful attention to the needs of the audience will ensure that if your container is appealing, your message will shine through, and you will achieve your goal as a writer.
CHAPTER ATTRIBUTION INFORMATION
This chapter was written by Jodi Naas, Portland Community College, and is licensed CC-BY 4.0.