Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Graphology

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now

Want to get better grades?

Nope, I’m not ready yet

Get free, full access to:

  • Flashcards
  • Notes
  • Explanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
English

Graphology is the visual appearance of language. This includes the layout, font, use of colour, and anything else that affects the way we see words visually represented.

Tip: It is important to note that this is the definition of graphology in the context of English Language studies. Another definition of graphology is the study of handwriting, which is said to help determine personality traits; if you've searched online for "graphology", you'll probably find a lot of info on this - however, this is not the type of graphology that we will be discussing in this article. We will be looking at graphology purely as a visual representation of language.

Why does Graphology matter?

Whenever language is written down or typed, its appearance, or visual aesthetic, communicates meaning, regardless of whether it was intended or not. For example, it would be perfectly normal and acceptable to hand in an essay typed in black Times New Roman in size 12pt, arranged into neat paragraphs. It would be a little alarming however, if your tutor received an essay that you had typed in neon pink Comic Sans in size 100pt, in all capital letters and with a hand-drawn picture of a cat at the bottom of each page! The graphology of a piece of writing gives us clues about how we should interpret it - is it formal or informal, is it for adults or children, and should we take it seriously or not - graphology gives an extra layer of meaning to the written or printed word.

A more simple reason to pay attention to graphology is to make sure that a piece of writing is legible. An easy-to-follow layout, good punctuation, and appropriate fonts all allow for clear communication .

What are the elements of graphology?

Graphology has many facets, including:

  • layout
  • Typographical features
  • Font size
  • Font type
  • Font colour
  • Orthographic features
  • Spelling
  • Capitalization
  • Punctuation

For each of these elements, we will give a brief explanation. If you'd like to read up about any of them in more detail, we have individual articles for each one.

Layout

Layout is how a piece of writing is arranged. This can include paragraphs, spacing, headings and subheadings, and overall structure. Layout is quite literally how the piece is laid out before the reader.

Think of a newspaper article: there is usually a headline to sum up the piece and entice you to read on, and then the main text, split into paragraphs to help you digest the information. This tried and tested layout works as it draws the reader in before presenting the information in a way that is easy to follow.

Another layout you may be familiar with is a restaurant menu. The options are usually organized into categories such as “starters”, “mains” and “desserts” (in that order), the name of each option is usually larger and / or bolder than the description, and there may even be some decorative touches, such as images, to contribute to the “feel” of the menu. The layout is important for clarity and tone .

Another layout you may be familiar with is a restaurant menu. The options are usually organized into categories such as “starters”, “mains” and “desserts” (in that order), the name of each option is usually larger and / or bolder than the description, and there may even be some decorative touches, such as images, to contribute to the “feel” of the menu. The layout is important for clarity and tone .

Typographical features

Typographical features are visual elements that a text uses in order to communicate information clearly, and in the intended way. These elements include:

  • Typefaces and fonts
  • Contrast
  • Consistency
  • White space
  • Alignment
  • Colour
  • Hierarchy

There's a lot to cover here, so we recommend reading our article on typographical features for a more in-depth focus on each element. Generally speaking though, typographical features help to make text clear, visually appealing, and legible.

Font size

This is pretty self-explanatory - it is simply the size of the font . Font sizes are measured in points, pixels, or pica.

Obvious though it may sound, font size is an important element of graphology. This is because it allows for clarity (ie, making sure the text is the right size to read comfortably), and differentiation (consider how headings, sub-headings, and the main body of text usually differ in size to create a clear separation between them).

Font type

Font type refers to the use of typefaces and their variations - the choice of typeface, combined with variations such as italics and bold text , helps to communicate tone and emphasis .

People are often (understandably) confused by the terms “typeface” and “font”. What's the difference?

  • A typeface is a particular design of type - it is a collection of characters that belong together. Examples of typefaces include Arial, Times New Roman and Comic Sans.

  • A font is a typeface + any variations . An example of a font would be Arial, size 12pt, in italics.

Think of the array of typefaces that are available in word processing programmes such as Microsoft Word and Apple Pages; from Courier New to Pacifico, each one is designed with a purpose in mind; some are formal and professional while some are fun and silly; some are modern, some are futuristic, while others are old-fashioned and decorative. Typefaces, and in turn font types, go a long way towards communicating a message.

Graphology, Typefaces, StudySmarterA selection of typefaces. (StudySmarter.com)

Font colour

Font colour, much like font size, can help to create differentiation or contrast; a font colour can simply help to make text legible (for example, a black font on a white background), or it can be used to grab a reader's attention where appropriate (for example, a red font to warn of danger).

Orthographic features

Orthographic features are the conventions of written language . They include:

These are the accepted ways of writing - without the proper use of orthographic features, a piece of text can be baffling and hard to understand. Take the following sentence, for example:

“It's a little, nown fact that p. Nuts R not akchully! Nuts but leg umes?"

If we were to correct the orthographic features of this text, we would have something much easier to understand:

"It's a little-known fact that peanuts are not actually nuts, but legumes."

Of course, sometimes writers break these accepted rules to create a certain effect - they might want the reader to feel alienated, or to draw attention to certain words or phrases. For more information on this, see our article on foregrounding. More often than not though, we use orthographic features in their conventional ways for the sake of clarity.

Spelling

Correct spelling sends a message of professionalism - in this age of automatic spell checks, it is certainly a sign of amateurism to publish or print a piece of text with spelling mistakes!

However, sometimes deliberate misspelling can be a stylistic choice . Think of the number of bands and musical artists who intentionally spell words incorrectly to give their artist and album names a certain "edge". The Weeknd, Phish, Twista, Eminem and Def Leppard are all examples of this.

Poets such as Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jean “Binta” Breeze and Benjamin Zephaniah write straight, rather than using traditional English spelling. This portrays their nation language (which is a variation on a language, such as Jamaican Patois) more accurately. Take a look at this extract from Linton Kwesi Johnson's “Mi Revalueshanary Fren” (which in standard English, would be “My Revolutionary Friend”):

"

Awhile agoh mi fren an mi woz taakin

Soh mi see in:

Wat a way di eart a run nowadays, man

It gettin aada by di day

Fi know whey yu stan

Cauz wen yu tink yu deh pun salid dry lan

Wen yu cteck a stack yu fine yu ina quick-san¹

"

By spelling words like this, his own unique voice comes across much more clearly.

In the case of Benjamin Zephaniah, he began writing straight because of his dyslexia. Unexpectedly, this became part of his style and led to his huge success and popularity. Below is a short extract from his poem, "Dis Poetry":

"

Dis poetry is not afraid of going in a book

Still dis poetry need ears fe hear an eyes fe hav a look

Dis poetry is Verbal Riddim, no big words involved

An if I hav a problem de riddim gets it solved,

I've tried to be more romantic, it does nu good for me

So I tek a reggae riddim an build me poetry²

"

Capitalisation

Capitalisation means using capital letters. This usually happens at the beginning of a proper noun - such as John Smith, or Uganda - or in the words of a title or heading - such as English Language: A Complete Guide, or Jurassic World. Capitalisation can help to separate proper nouns from regular nouns , as well as adding differentiation to a title or heading.

Of course, capitalisation can also be used TO DRAW ATTENTION TO A PART OF THE TEXT, OR TO SIGNIFY THAT A CHARACTER IS SHOUTING BY USING ALL CAPITALS!

Punctuation

Punctuation is the use of symbols in a text to organise the natural pauses and rhythms of language, among other things. Full stops, exclamation marks, and question marks are all examples of punctuation.

What is a multimodal text?

A multimodal text is a text that makes meaning by combining two or more modes of communication, such as printed language, spoken language, audio, and images. Examples of multimodal texts include comics and graphic novels, newspapers, and even live performances.

So how does this relate to graphology? Well, many multimodal texts incorporate the written or printed word. Think of the way comics use stylised lettering or the way movies use titles and subtitles to create a mood or to help tell a story.

Graphology - Key takeaways

  • Graphology is the visual appearance of language.
  • Graphology matters because the appearance of the text, or 'visual aesthetic', communicates meaning, regardless of whether it was intended.
  • The layout is how a piece of writing is arranged, while typographical features are visual elements that a text uses in order to communicate information clearly, and in an intended way.
  • Orthographic features are the conventions of written language: spelling, punctuation, capitalisation, hyphenation, and emphasis.
  • A multimodal text is a text which makes meaning by combining two or more modes of communication.

1 Linton Kwesi Johnson, Tings an Times: Selected Poems, 1991

² Benjamin Zephaniah, City Psalms, 1992

Frequently Asked Questions about Graphology

Graphology is the visual appearance of language. This includes the layout, font, use of colour, and anything else that affects the way we see words visually represented.

If you're asking this question then you're probably thinking of graphology as in "the study of handwriting" and so we're sorry to say that you're in the wrong place. This article is not about this type of graphology - it is about graphology in the context of English language studies, which is the visual representation of language.

Whenever language is written down or typed, its appearance, or visual aesthetic, communicates some meaning to us, whether intentional or not. The graphology of a piece of writing gives us clues about how we should interpret it - is it formal or informal, is it for adults or children, and should we take it seriously or not - graphology gives an extra layer of meaning to the written or printed word. 


A more simple reason to pay attention to graphology is to make sure that a piece of writing is legible. An easy-to-follow layout, good punctuation, and appropriate fonts all allow for clear communication.


The elements of graphology include:

Layout

Typographical features

Font size

Font type

Font color

Orthographic features

Spelling

Capitalisation

Punctuation

A typeface is a particular design of type - it is a collection of characters that belong together. Examples of typefaces include Arial, Times New Roman and Comic Sans.

A font is a typeface + any variations. An example of a font would be Arial, size 12pt, in italics.

Final Graphology Quiz

Question

Graphology is important as it can make a piece of writing more legible. T / F.

Show answer

Answer

True. 

Show question

Question

Graphology is only used in comic books. T/F.

Show answer

Answer

False.

Show question

Question

Graphology is all about how language sounds. T / F.


Show answer

Answer

False.

Show question

Question

Punctuation is an element of graphology. T / F.

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Oxymoron is an element of graphology. T/F.


Show answer

Answer

False.

Show question

Question

Which of the following best describes a font?


Show answer

Answer

A typeface + any variations.


Show question

Question

Which of the following is NOT a reason to pay attention to graphology?


Show answer

Answer

To ensure that words rhyme correctly.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is true of graphology?


Show answer

Answer

It gives an extra layer of meaning to the written or printed word.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is NOT an element of graphology?


Show answer

Answer

Safety features

Show question

Question

Which of the following is NOT an element of graphology?


Show answer

Answer

Font sound

Show question

Question

Which of the following best describes what layout is?


Show answer

Answer

How a piece of writing is arranged.

Show question

Question

Which of the following best describes what punctuation is?


Show answer

Answer

The use of special symbols in a text that aid interpretation.

Show question

Question

Which of the following best describes what capitalization is?

Show answer

Answer

The use of capital letters.

Show question

Question

Which of the following best describes a multimodal text?


Show answer

Answer

A text that uses two or more modes of communication.

Show question

Question

How are font sizes measured?


Show answer

Answer

In points, pixels or pica.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Graphology quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.