Cross-Cultural Use of Graphics: China v US

Qiuye, Wang. “A Cross-Cultural Comparison of the Use of Graphics in Scientific and Technical Communication.” Technical Communication 47.4 (November 2000): 553-60. Web. 12 February 2014.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Compares graphics’ usage in China (high-context culture) and US (low-context culture).

universality of graphics?

Maitra and Goswami (1995) looked at specifics in Japanese graphics

sources: “popular science magazines and instruction manuals for household products”
about Dolly (sheep cloning)

analyzed:
verbal-visual integration
information selected for graphics
techniques used to enhance usability

“American manuals have much better verbal-visual integration than the Chinese manuals.”

Visually heavier than words, pictures are usually used for emphasis. The graphics in the two sets of manual illustrations indicate a difference of emphasis, the American on task performance and the Chinese on product information.

“When presenting a new idea to general readers, the Chinese tend to provide more contextual information, while the Americans tend to be direct.”

Chinese culture = relational, holistic
American culture = problem-oriented, direct, explicit

in China, the norm to include technical information useful to repair person, but not owner/operator of equipment
So definitely keep the manuals if you are in China.

for Chinese audience, supply context and/or overview
for American audience, be focused

Quiye did not look at a lot of images, only eight total. However, they probably are fairly representative OR they fit the argument he/she wanted to make.

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