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Truthiness and information graphics

Readers are more likely to believe the content of text when the layout and text quality is easy to understand. For example, the statement “Osorno is a city in Chile” is more likely to be rated true if it’s written in black text on a white background than if it’s written in lower contrast gray text on a gray background. Other studies have shown that readers rate authors as more intelligent when the text is easy to understand. Our project extends this work by studying the effect of well-designed information graphics on table of contents pages. We found that readers who saw the well-designed information graphics, rated the content as more interesting, more clearly written, and more scientifically rigorous. Good design literally changes how we process information.


Karen Cheng

Karen Cheng is Associate Professor in the Visual Communication Design program at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she teaches type design and typography. She was previously an instructor at the School of Design at the University of Cincinnati, where she received her Master’s degree in Graphic Design. Karen is an active practitioner whose design work has been recognized and published by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), Communication Arts, Print, Critique, I.D. Magazine, the American Center for Design, P.I.E. Tokyo, and Rockport Publishers. She has won multiple gold and silver medals from the Society for Publication Design and the University and College Designers Association. Her book, Designing Type, was published in 2006 by Laurence King (U.K.) and Yale University Press (U.S.)


Kevin Larson