Multimodal texts mix modes in all sorts of combinations. While often one mode will predominate, more frequently, several modes combine to communicate a message or argument. We will look at several examples of multimodal texts below.
Example of multimodality: Scholarly text
Here is in an example of a standard scholarly book in a print edition. This text relies primarily on the linguistic mode. In other words, it is made up primarily of letters and words. However, because most texts are multimodal in some sense, there are at least three modes at work in this example.
- The linguistic mode operates in the printed written text.
- The visual mode operates in the formatting of the text (such as the use of fully justified margins) and in the choice of typography (such as the different fonts used for the chapter title and the use of brackets around the chapter title).
- The spatial mode can be seen in the text’s arrangement (such as the placement of the epigraph from Francis Bacon’s Advancement of Learning at the top right and wrapping of the paragraph around it).
Example of Multimodality: Podcast+Website
Sometimes a text in a single modality can be augmented or expanded by other modalities. Take a look at the website for the first episode Someone Knows Something podcast. A podcast is entirely an aural text, but the website for the episode expands the podcast with images, text, and video related to the original narration. Thus, this episode’s web page is a multimodal refashioning of the original text.
Example of Multimodality: NPR’s Daily Picture Show
In this journalistic piece, which consists largely of print illustrated by a few key pictures, we get insight into Geoffrey’s Hiller’s longstanding intellectual and visual involvement with the people and places of Myanmar. Coburn Dukehart’s “A Long-Standing Love Affair with Myanmar,” an episode in National Public Radio’s feature, “Daily Picture Show,” is a journalistic report about the photographer with highly symbolic, if realistic, photos from his journeys in the country of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Mr. Hiller has since published a book of photos on the subject, entitled Daybreak in Myanmar, which is available for sale.
This piece relies primarily on the linguistic and visual modes, but if you visit Geoffrey Hiller’s professional website, you can find many multimodal pieces, most of them in the Flash format. Note: Flash productions are not visible on iPad or phones but are visible on a computer.
practice: Examples of Multimodal Texts