Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.4 The purpose of visual and/or graphic representations in texts are recognised and explained.

ryanrori December 29, 2020

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As has already been mentioned, we can also communicate by means of pictures and graphics.

In the health and safety module, you will recall that there are pictorial signs that communicate something to you about environmental health and safety.  For example,

There are also symbols that are commonly recognised in public areas such as the male and female pictorial signs to indicate toilets as well as the disabled sign.

Very often, pictures, graphs or diagrams can help illustrate what you are trying to say.  We have already explored the usefulness of diagrams or mind maps in organising and ordering research material and written communication in a previous module.

Features of visual texts are explained in relation to the way they impact on meaning.

In the following example, the process of integrated flour and water metering in the baking process is easier to follow if the written word is supported by a diagram.

Graphs are very useful for illustrating written material, especially information that compares statistics, shows proportions, explains sequences or displays a proportion of a total.  There are a number of different kinds of chart.


Charts are easier to read than chunks of words in a text.  For example, distances between places are more easily understood in the form of a chart.

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Cape Town



East London

Beaufort West


















Cape Town













A bar chart (also known as a block graph) is also very useful when comparing statistics.  They are also useful for showing proportions.  For example, if you need to report about how many boxes of three types of fruit juice your company exports, a bar chart will easily show you the one type in relation to the others.

Pie charts

Pie charts are valuable when you need to display a proportion of a total.  Just think of a chicken pie or a milk tart that you cut into slices or segments.   That is what a pie chart looks like.  Each slice or segment is a proportion or percentage of the whole.  The pie is circular and represents 100%.  If you wanted to show how much profit you made from exports in one year, the circle would represent the year and each quarter would be a percentage of the year.

In the following example of a pie chart, in which quarter (three month period) of the year did your export product make the most profit?

Line graphs

Line graphs are similar to bar charts.  If you take the same information about the three different types of fruit juices in the bar chart example, a line graph format would be as follows.

Photographs, pictures, videos and films

There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Do you agree with this statement?  Why?

Compare a picture of a bad accident with a story about a bad accident and decide which has the most impact.  Someone can explain how to clean a machine, but someone showing you a picture of one and pointing out, with the help of an illustration, how to do it, will be easier to understand.  It will also be easier to remember so that when you see the real machine, a picture of it is already in your mind.

It is not true to say a photograph does not tell lies.  Depending on the angle from which the photograph has been taken, and, of course, with a bit of computer manipulation, you can never be sure that what you are seeing is what is actually happening.  You thus have to look at pictures and photographs as carefully as you read people‚Äôs words.  They can also be manipulated to suit the purpose of the photographer.

The same applies to films and videos.  The film maker will make use of various techniques to get the effect he wants.  He can zoom into the picture, or he can make use of special sound or lighting effects.  The choice of the type of visuals he decides to use can also be manipulative.