Pitfalls to Avoid When Adding Graphics

Computer keyboardCredit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Computer_keyboard.gif (Public Domain)Whether you are working on a business deal or need to write your own correspondence to a business, it is vital your writing is effective. The reason why this is so important is because you want to make sure your message is correctly received. If you miss the mark on your message, chances are, you won't get the results you'd hoped.

Graphics can nicely augment business writing, but pictures are only of value if used sparingly and within context of your words. Inserting graphics in business documents is a great way to enhance different communication mediums such as a document, slideshow, website or even social media. Or it can help describe what the document is explaining, such as in technical documentation.

According to Business2Community, the use of graphics in business writing will be "critical and far more effective" by the year 2020. 1 B2C suggests writers will need to effectively condense text and integrate it into images. This prediction appears to align with the big boost of infographics in recent years.

While images are important, it's got to be done right.

Images Should be Relevant

Adding photos can add an appealing element to words, but only if the image is relevant to what's being discussed. The trick is to select images that directly relate to the subject you are writing about. It can be also be clip-art, a table, graph or other kind of chart that provides a pictorial visual of what you're talking about.

If you add a photo of a laptop, dollar sign or other financial data that relates to your content, this would make sense. Your photo should be representative and paint an illustration of your message. Adding a photo of your cat Fluffy, as cute as she may be, isn't going to add value to your business writing because Fluffy isn't applicable to your message (unless it's a pet-related business, there it would make sense).

Cat napping on computerCredit: SanGatiche/Flickr Creative Commons-Attribution https://www.flickr.com/photos/sangatiche/275371612/

Use Images Sparingly

While straight text may look boring and adding a graphic can add a little zip to the presentation of your text, you don't want to go overboard on the images. While a picture is worth a thousand words, if you use too many it becomes overkill and becomes visually distracting. This can be a tricky balance as, depending on the nature of the document, you want to attract the attention of the "skimmers" and be sure they receive the relevant information.

High Quality Images

The photo(s) you insert into your document or website should be clear and crisp. A blurry, faded, or unattractive image is going to detract readers away from your words. Be sure the graphic you select is appropriate and of high quality. If not, your content may look too unprofessional and, as a result, be disregarded. OpenVine emphasizes the need for images to be professional looking. 2 If you don't have any of your own, you can buy stock content or use images that are offered for commercial use or in the public domain.

Keep it Simple 

The best visualizations are the ones which are straight to the point and simplified in nature. An intricate photo full of complex images is going to be a distraction because your reader or audience is likely to get more caught up in the detail of the photo and lose track of the message itself. The key is to use the graphic as a way to complement your words, not replace or detract from the message. In business documents, less is often more when it comes to integrating images.

In today's business, communication platforms, such as slideshow presentations, websites, social media and other methods of distributing information - all play an important part of communication. The objective of your business writing is to effectively reach your audience. Good imagery can help you accomplish this goal.

Graphics can add value to any of these communication platforms, but if you aren't careful with the way you approach using visual representations, your message can easily get lost. Remember, your graphics shouldn't be designed to replace your words in documents, be sure your text is at its best too.

By avoiding the pitfalls, a winning text/graphic combination can be created.