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Verbal Versus Visual: A Word Is Worth a Thousand Pictures, Too

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A picture is worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes. Pictures are indeed superior for conveying intuitive or global information. By contrast, they do a poor job of expressing abstract concepts and lack the accuracy that words are endowed with. Words, in a sense, are worth a thousand pictures. The choice between words and pictures, as any choice in professional communication, depends on the purpose: usually, a combination of both is most appropriate. This article compares words and pictures, offers recommendations for the optimal use of pictures, and applies these recommendations to the case of so-called “cruel” graphs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2002

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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