Analyzing Visual Texts and Documents
Remember: Like with written texts, every part of a visual text is a conscious choice.
• How much written text is present? To what effect?
• What do the words say? Do they agree with the image or contradict it in some way?
• What kind of diction, tone, language is present in the written text?
• What do the words imply? What do they add to the message of the document?
• Do they use logos? Ethos? Pathos? Or a combination of these?
What kind of image is present?
• A photograph? A drawing or cartoon? A combination?
• What effect does this have? How does it contribute to the meaning of the document?
What’s the image of?
• A person, place, object, etc?
• Is there a story being told? What? Why?
• How do these particular items and/or narrative contribute to the document’s meaning?
If people are present…
The body (or bodies)
• How large is the body in the frame?
• What part of the body is dominant in the picture?
• What’s the context: Is the figure shown interacting with others, or alone? Is the figure
active or passive, tough and in-your-face or withdrawn? What details tell you this?
• Facial expression: smiling, frowning, angry, etc…
• What kind of emotion does the facial expression suggest?
• Type of (or lack of) clothing: What is the subject wearing? Be as specific as possible.
• What sort of tone does the subject’s clothing imply: professional, personal, athletic,
sexual, etc? How so?
• What more does the clothing (or lack of) tell us about the subject?
• What is the color scheme: Black and white? Bright colors? Cool colors? Dark colors?
• Why this color scheme? What does it add?
How is the document organized?
• Is the image more important than the words, or vice versa? In what proportion do words
and images appear? Where are the words in relation to the image(s)?
• Is there one central image, one section where your eye goes first? Are there other
surrounding images/background or just one?
• Does the document employ different levels of clarity/ focus? Are there parts that are
blurred or less noticeable?
• Why this type of organization? What does it contribute to the meaning of the document?
The document as a whole
• What’s the overall message of the document? What does it imply to viewers?
• What kind of audience does the document appeal to?
• What is it showing us: a specific look, quality, lifestyle, value, desire, dream, idea, ideal,
fear, paranoia, etc?
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