NMS 504: Text and Image (Winter 2014)

Course Description

New media writing technologies have made it commonplace to compose with both text and image. This course aims to better prepare you to participate in creative and strategic decisions about such multimodal composition—conceptualized here as composition that incorporates both text and image—by introducing relevant design concepts and providing hands-on experience with commonly used professional tools. While we will focus primarily on how to design multimodal texts for known audiences and display contexts, we will also explore the important new issues raised by the increasingly multichannel publishing environment in which new media professionals work.

Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course, you should be better prepared to

  • Apply an understanding of typography, layout, and photography to the conceptualization and critique of new media texts.
  • Create basic- to intermediate-level documents and webtexts that combine text and image.
  • Determine the utility and merit of certain hardware and software tools for particular new media projects, tools that include various camera types, InDesign, Lightroom, and different online templates for multimodal composition. Note that the course goal is not for you to develop expertise with this hardware and software, but rather for you to know enough about how these tools work to interact knowledgeably and productively with production specialists.
  • Articulate the ways in which design and persuasion for multiple and often unknown contexts and devices, or multichannel publishing, affects text and image strategy and workflow.


Foster, J. (2011). Shooting story. In Storytellers: A photographer’s guide to developing themes and creating stories with pictures. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.

Freeman, M. (2012). The photographer’s story: The art of visual narrative. Waltham, MA: Focal Press.

Lupton, E. (2010). Thinking with type: A critical guide for designers, writers, editors, & students (2nd ed.). New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

McGrane, K. (2012). Adaptive content. In Content strategy for mobile (pp. 47-82). New York: A Book Apart.

Neville, K. (2010). Designing style guidelines for brands and websites. Retrieved from Smashing Magazine website: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/07/21/designing-style-guidelines-for-brands-and-websites/

Porter, N. (2013). “Single-minded, compelling, and unique”: Visual communications, landscape, and the calculated aesthetic of place branding. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, 7(2), 231-254.

Wachter-Boettcher, S. (2012). Adaptable content; Reusable content; and Transportable content. In Content everywhere: Strategy and structure for future-ready design (pp. 122-188). Brooklyn, NY: Rosenfield Media.



  1. Visual Identity Guidelines: Brief set of visual identity guidelines for an existing organization, reverse-engineered through analysis of the organization’s online materials and produced using InDesign.
  2. Shot Stack: Collection of digital photographs, submitted in a Lightroom web gallery, which demonstrates your knowledge of a number of photographic techniques (e.g., use of natural light, rule of thirds, leading lines, depth of field, stop action vs. slow exposure, perspective, etc.).
  3. PhotoText Project: Project for web display that combines photographs you take with substantial, relevant text that you write or collect. Most likely you’ll create a photoessay using the online tool Exposure, though I’m open to other approaches (e.g., a Tumblr along the lines of Humans of New York or a hand-coded piece). The topic is your choice—some possibilities include a day-in-the-life story, an inquiry on a particular theme, a documentary project, a location profile… We will look at print and online examples and use the Freeman book to generate ideas.
  4. White Paper: Brief white paper (PDF authored in InDesign or slideware), coauthored with a classmate, which explains how organizations can approach the challenges of creating and delivering text and image in a multichannel publishing workflow. Paper will include brief analyses of existing organizations to outline strategies such as adaptive content, responsive delivery, and responsive design.