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Chapter 12. Text and Labels: Writing for... > Text: What’s it Good For?

Text: What’s it Good For?

Although text is one of the most direct ways to communicate with users, it also requires them to read, recognize, and understand the words. By contrast, visual forms of communication, such as icons, color, or proximity, can communicate more efficiently and effectively without requiring the same level of cognitive processing. The downside of visual communication, however, is that it often lacks the precision and specificity of written language. After all, if icons always communicated effectively, they would never need labels.

Clearly, some types of messages and information can be communicated only through text. The trick, then, is to identify and recognize which aspects of the interface truly require text and which ones don’t.


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