Online College Courses for Credit

Choosing Whether to Use Software or Technology to Enhance Ideas

Choosing Whether to Use Software or Technology to Enhance Ideas

Author: Nancy Heilman

Learners will focus on the following:

  • How visuals and various graphics can be utilized to more clearly convey complex ideas
  • When to use technology instead of or in addition to written text in order to more clearly communicate ideas
  • What kinds of specialized software can be used to enhance papers by adding these graphic elements to the existing text

With technology only a mouse click away, it is important to know when to add visuals, graphics, photos, etc. to existing typed documents.  This learning packet discusses situations where it may be best to add visuals in order to more clearly communicate the intended idea(s).  Also discussed are some of the better-known software options, which by today's standards are quite user-friendly.

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A Simple Example to Illustrate Why Visuals are Necessary

The example above shows how a bar chart is a perfect visual for mapping the number of wallets sold each month, while the text to the right of the chart shows the same information, yet is more difficult to process.  Our brain needs visuals in many cases.  This is one case.  The column chart above was easily created in Excel, using already-typed-in information, shown below.

Visuals, then, help to more easily explain complicated written material.  This is probably the most important reason to use them. 

Source: Nancy Heilman

What ARE Visuals?

In 19 seconds, this video gives a simple list of seven key types of visuals

Source: Nancy Heilman

When to Use Technology to Clearly Communicate Ideas

Briefly, nine different visuals (created by simple technology) are highlighted, as well as their purposes within a piece of writing

Source: Nancy Heilman

Common Software and Technology Used to Create Visuals

This is an overview of how to create and use typical visual pieces in one's papers an documents... in order to clarify meaning and communicate CLEARLY and CONCISELY.

Source: Nancy Heilman


While visuals and graphics are certainly not the focal point or end result of a written work or presentation, they often play a key role in clear, concise communication.  They can make the difference between ordinary communication... and EXTRAORDINARY.  Some questions to ask yourself when considering whether or not to add visuals or graphics:

? ? ? ?? ? ? ? ?

1. Is adding visuals to my written work or presentation acceptable (to the teacher, to the audience)?

2. What will be gained by adding a visual?  What will be lost?

3. What is the best visual to add?  Why?

4. How am I going to go about creating or obtaining the graphic?

5. Does it work, now that I've added it (question to ask post-creation of it, obviously)?


Source: Nancy Heilman