Visual Rhetoric

Visual Rhetoric

You Write the Book!

In this project, you will produce a small-ish chapter on visual rhetoric for a technical communication textbook. Time to get creative!


Drawing from all the readings and discussions thus far, compose an informative textbook mini-chapter that surveys visual rhetoric, visual analysis, and the various analytical tools and/or concepts available for discussing these topics in a constructive, organized manner. Imagine you’ve been asked to write this chapter for a general undergraduate- or graduate-level technical communication textbook that has only one chapter on visual rhetoric and design. Your job is to compile and present, in your own words and with your own examples, the concepts you see as most important to someone just learning about visual rhetoric. This is intended as chance to pause in our studies and look back upon all the ground we’ve covered thus far.

Writing this chapter should bring you to grapple with a number of questions (some of which you might even consider using as headings), including (but not necessarily limited to):

What is visual rhetoric? Why study it? What is the relevance to technical communication?
What are some of the more useful and/or common tools for discussing the visual rhetoric of an artifact or object?
Who has contributed theories or other ways of thinking to the study of visual rhetoric?
What are some applications in technical communication of the theories and concepts covered in the chapter, especially in terms of considering arguments, designing documents, and making visuals easier to read and understand?
How can the chapter make the concepts / theories more accessible to a new audience?
What visuals and/or other examples would help illustrate the concepts in the chapter?
Also consider going back to look at previous weeks’ discussion questions to get a sense of the topics, issues, and/or concepts you think you should cover. You’ll likely be challenged to cram everything we’ve done into a single mini-chapter, given both word count and (especially) time constraints, so you’ll have to make informed decisions about what is most important to include. The importance of the ideas covered to be evident in the text. In the end, you want your chapter to be coherent, polished, and educational.


Undergraduate- or graduate-level students, though it might be helpful to think of this project as a guide and/or reference for yourself as we move forward with the class.


Cite at least six sources in APA format. Feel free to find sources outside of the required and optional reading, if you’d like. Include a list of sources at the end of the chapter. Use direct quotations sparingly.


Include at least three (3) images / graphics, none of which should be from previous readings, and provide proper credit (if borrowed). Use the visuals as a way to deepen the audience’s understanding of the subject matter. All visuals should have descriptive captions and be referenced (or “called out”) in the chapter text (e.g., “See Figure 1”). Cite as necessary.


Make the document look as professional and cleanly designed as possible, though realize that the chapter content is the most important aspect of the assignment. Include page numbers, but feel free to ignore other strict APA formatting standards that are not directly related to documenting sources; this is not, after all, a formal research essay.

In terms of file format, your finished product must be presented as a PDF document.


Professional, informative, educational tone that presents an unbiased, objective perspective. The goal here is to teach the reader about visual concepts that are foreign to them. Consider going back to some textbooks you have to get a sense of the tone and style that you want to achieve; you want to come across as authoritative as possible. Probably more Kostelnick and Roberts than Kress and van Leeuwen!


Grammar and punctuation ought to be flawless. Mechanics are a small part of the overall grade, but will negatively affect the final score if errors severely disrupt the chapter’s flow and/or meaning.


At least 2500 words, and preferably less than 4000. You will need to gauge the length on your own based on the subject matter you include.

Writing Workshop Process

You will share your work-in-progress with two or three other members of the class. The writing workshop groups have been randomly assigned, and you will share your work in a discussion board dedicated to your group’s work.

A complete rough draft of the chapter will be due to the discussion board by 11:59pm Thursday, 10/22. Responses will be due in reply to the drafts by 11:59pm on Monday, 10/26. The chapter is due in final form to the Project 1 dropbox by 11:59pm on Friday, 10/30.


Rubric Category Weight
Chapter introduction/overview 15%
Selection of major topic areas, organization of chapter 25%
Coverage of relevant theoretical background, with reference to scholarly thought 15%
Use of visuals 15%
Application to larger discipline of technical communication 15%
Format/design 10%
Mechanics 5%

(Please cite attached sources in syllabus and other readings. Have only done the readings through week 6 so please do not include anything further.
Ch. 1-3 of Kostelnick and Roberts book “Designing Visual Language”

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