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A Cross-cultural Comparison of the Use of Graphics in Scientific and Technical Communication

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Communication styles vary across cultures. To investigate cultural differences in visual communication, graphics from Chinese popular science magazines and instruction manuals were compared with their counterparts from American sources. The results show that the Chinese visuals provide more contextual information to the readers when presenting new scientific concepts. The Chinese instruction manuals contain graphics with extensive technical data, which are not a typical feature in American manuals. The American visuals, on the other hand, are more closely integrated with corresponding verbal explanations. The emphasis of American manuals is on problem solving, that is, performing tasks. Cultural factors that may account for the differences are also discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2000

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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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