There is more to arguing your case than a brilliantly written memo. Never underestimate the value of “eyewash.” If you write well, graphics will enhance your ideas and thus the reader’s acceptance of your points. If you don’t write well, eyewash distracts the reader into thinking you do!
The purpose of a graphic is to present information or data so the reader can quickly access the data and draw conclusions which enhance the author’s point.
· The graphic should be self-contained. It should be able to be interpreted whether in a written context or standing alone.
· Make your graphics simple. Complexity creates confusion.
· Use color where possible. If duplication is a consideration, combine color with shades or half-tones.
· Always title a graphic.
· Graphic maps (any device which uses symbols rather than pictorial representations) should always include a legend.
· Refer to a graphic in the body of the text (e.g., “See Figure X”), and place the graphic in the text near where it is referenced.
· List figures in a separate index, both by page number and figure number.
· Always identify on the graphic the source of the data.
· Except for tables, each graphic should be enclosed in a border.
· Graphic maps should always indicate vector (usually with a north arrow) and scale.
· Line drawings may be helpful to clarify a concept or basic idea.
· Photographs should be large enough to present the object clearly; extraneous information should be cropped to maximize impact.
i. Visual expression
1. Work toward it visually as soon as possible (don’t talk it to death)
2. Can’t talk about the visual world; have to show it
3. Start with a thumbnail sketch
4. Presentation—turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse (definition, scale)
ii. The more languages you can speak, the better the chance you’ll use the most appropriate one.
iii. Don’t make it look too precious: design it so it looks like it’s easy to modify
iv. Don’t design the “set” first—first decide what the space is like, then what the scale will be (for theater, scale to the actor), then design the environment to be built.
v. Combine 2 & 3 dimensions by mounting drawings on core-board and arranging depth (sort of bas-relief).
i. “Draw a person” gives less satisfactory results than “Draw me”
ii. Eye-hand coordination—proportions, rather than actual measure (holding the thumb or a pencil or a ruler out at arm’s length)
iii. An amateur may have talent, but a professional knows how to control it.
i. Line—are proportions correct (do the lines relate properly)?
ii. Color—tone, shade, etc.
iii. Form—mass & shape
iv. Texture—real (eg, brick) or visual (eg, marble)
i. Number 1
ii. Number 2
ii. Louis Sullivan—Merchants’ National Bank
ii. Urban Heritage
iii. Word Map
ii. Pedestrian way
© 1996 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 1 September 2009