Representation in Document Design
This chapter shows how the theory of signs helps to account for the wealth of representational forms likely to appear in nearly any modern report, manual, or proposal. In the movement to accommodate nontechnical readers and to make use of the best combination of graphical and verbal effects in iconic-mosaic texts, “document design” has become a key issue in the practice of technical communication and in the education of technical communicators. Their work requires a keen visual awareness as well as a finely tuned verbal sensibility. A theoretical comprehension of the function of textual elements enables designers at once to understand and to move beyond the appeal to “common sense”, trial and error practice, and a loose sense of convention in document design. The chapter also shows how the concept of semiotic codes is useful in classifying types of documents—the genres of technical communication.