Friday, March 2, 2012

When and Where to Use Graphics in a Page-limited Document


With travel this week, I've decided to keep this blog short and to the point (as some of your documents need to be).

When should you use a graphic when space is limited?
Here are three reasons to choose a visual representation in a page-limited proposal or marketing document:
  1. Your solution is complex. Often a graphic can communicate complex concepts more succinctly than text alone. Consider network diagrams, quantitative charts, dashboard graphics, Gantt charts, organizational charts, and process diagrams. All communicate complex information that is easily digested.
  2. You want to ensure your information stands out. Good graphics pull our eyes to them because, to simplify the explanation, they look different than the text around them. Visuals communicate faster than text because text is decoded linearly and graphics are absorbed all at once. Graphics are instantly stored in long-term memory whereas text must go through short-term memory before they are stored in long-term memory.
  3. You want to quickly communicate the professionalism and commitment to the project. Graphics show you care and speak to the quality of the service/product your company provides.
Where should you place graphics in a page-limited document?
Anywhere they are needed. The golden rule is a graphic per page, but I have found it unrealistic to shoehorn a graphic onto every page despite tight budgets and page limitations. Place your graphic as close as possible to the associated text for better clarification.

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