Presentational Devices

Presentational devices include: titles, headings, subtitles, illustrations, captions, white space, the use of colour, and more. Good writing isn't only about content, but about presentation. Besides words, there are many visual tools which writers use, called 'presentational devices'. These have the greatest impact in non-fiction writing, but can also be found elsewhere. When taking this quiz, remember that writers choose their devices with care, always taking account of audience and purpose.

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  1. 'Mobile phone company insists woman must pay bill after thieves run up £15,000 charges in TWO HOURS' - what is the purpose of the use of capitals in this headline?
    The reader is meant to think, 'That's crazy/terrible/shocking/unbelievable!'
  2. Which of the following is NOT a purpose of bulleted lists?
    Saving time might seem like a good answer, but remember:  writers choose presentational devices that will have the most effect for their audience and will suit their purpose in writing.  If a writer wanted to save time, how much easier would it be not to write at all?
  3. Which of the following means 'a set of type; the appearance of letters and characters'?
    A writer will carefully choose the best font for a particular audience.  Writers often use italics or bold in order to draw attention to particular words or to distinguish between different text features (i.e. headlines would not be as noticeable if they were not in a larger, bold font)
  4. 'Layout' means...
    Specifically, layout describes how writing and any presentational devices are organised on the page
  5. Which of the following statements is NOT true?
    Have you ever read a newspaper article with the phrase 'Continued on page 10' halfway through the most interesting paragraph, but then when you turned to page 10, the rest of the article wasn't there, or was there but wasn't obvious?  That's an example of poor layout
  6. When are charts and diagrams useful?
    Charts and diagrams may seem dependable, but watch out!  Even these truthful-looking mathematical tools can be used in a biased manner by an unscrupulous writer
  7. At its most basic level, a title tells the audience what the subject of a text is. A title might also...
    Titles can often be analysed as closely as you would analyse a line of poetry - look for emotive language, allusions, or any connotations which words or phrases have
  8. What guides a writer's choice when using colour in a text?
    A publisher may sometimes wish for cheaper printing costs, but a writer's only consideration is 'what effect will this colour have on my reader?' (i.e. what does the reader associate with this colour?)
  9. A biased caption would...
  10. Which of the following is NOT a presentational device?
    Audience and purpose will guide the choice of presentational devices

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