Visual Encyclopedia

Multimodality

In its most basic sense, multimodality is a theory of communication and social semiotics. Multimodality describes communication practices in terms of the textual, aural, linguistic, spatial, and visual resources - or modes - used to compose messages. Where media are concerned, multimodality is the use of several modes (media) to create a single artifact. The collection of these modes, or elements, contributes to how multimodality affects different rhetorical situations, or opportunities for increasing an audience's reception of an idea or concept. Everything from the placement of images to the organization of the content creates meaning. This is the result of a shift from isolated text being relied on as the primary source of communication, to the image being utilized more frequently in the digital age. While multimodality as an area of academic study did not gain traction until the twentieth century, all communication, literacy, and composing practices are and always have been multimodal.

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