Category Archives: From the Web

I’m a Cambria girl. What about you?

I cannot tell you how much it bothers me when I open a Word document, and the default font is Calibri. Before I do anything, I change the font to Cambria and breathe easy as I begin my writing. I lean towards the serif fonts, but in some cases, such as on the Internet, sans serif fonts are easier to read.

Take a look at this website that sells font related apparel:

What does this say about the rhetorical impact of design on people?

Sans Serifs Bold Tee Men's

Serif versus Sans-Serif

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How C.R.A.P. is Your Site Design?

CRAP designRecently, visual rhetoric has begun to be a larger field due to the increase in today’s technology. It has been used to mean anything from the use of images as an argument, the arrangement of elements on a page for a specific rhetoric effect, and to use colors and fonts consistently. Since there is so much to take into consideration when creating a site, document, resume, presentation, etc. just remember C.R.A.P. and hopefully it will survive the once over.


C. = Contrast

Are used to make certain elements on the page stand out to the reader. By having strong contrast between page elements, it allows the reader to easily scan from one point to another down the page.

R. = Repetition

By repeating styles down the page for a cohesive feel. For example, by bolding each idea, I am repeating a rhetorical choice that allows, you, the readers to break up the page and distinguish different points from one another.

A. = Alignment

Everything on the page should be visually connected and cohesive to something else, nothing should be out of place or



P. = Proximity

This creates and relates meaning. By grouping elements together with a specific design element throughout the page, the reader will be able to determine what goes with what. By also implementing design elements and including space, the readers will not easily be confused and your document, site, resume, etc. will be very readable.


Does the CUPID site follow the C.R.A.P. design model? If so, why?

Picture 1

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How and Why Should We Write well?

kaitlynGuest Blogger Kaitlyn Stahl, ’15

In a globalized world, communication is everywhere. Often, people do not realize how much they must communicate with others. It can involve anything from ordering a coffee or posting a Facebook status to collaborating on a team or writing a proposal. In the professional world, writing is a skill everyone should strive to master.

As discussed in an earlier blog post, good grammar can correlate with salary, higher positions, and promotions. This is because grammar skills may indicate many positive workplace traits, including attention to detail, critical thinking, and intellectual aptitude. In a LinkedIn discussion topic, Dave Kerpen, CEO and NY Times best-selling author, explains it, “your writing is a reflection of your thinking. Clear, succinct, convincing writing will differentiate you as a great thinking and a valuable asset to your team.”

writing-habitsHe gives examples of how he often receives poorly written emails where the grammar is off, words are misspelled, and often the writer leans to flowery language, which obscures the meaning. He continues on by discussing how you must become a better writer in order to be considered seriously as a smart thinker. By writing well, you demonstrate that you can think well because you prove you are able to analyze and explain problems. He gives five main ways to improve your writing skills:

The first is practice (so important, he says it three times). This is true for acquiring most skills, and Kerpen suggests always reaching for ways to write – anything from blog posts like this one or content for a website – and not giving into self-excuses.

The second is saying it out loud. Sometimes you can only hear mistakes or awkward phrasing when writing is read out loud. Here, you can even have a friend read it out loud so you can listen more objectively and take notes on what parts they stumble over. (Or take it to the Writing Center where reading the paper aloud is standarcalvin-writingd procedure!)

The third is being concise. As Calvin aptly shows in the above comic, sometimes more words can be more confusing. Kerpen often asks himself “How can I say the same thing in fewer words?” which is a much stronger approach to writing and even editing that trying to sound too smart.

Fourth is working on headlines. Headlines should show exactly what your writing is about. This blog post shouldn’t be named “Calvin and Hobbes comics.” Although it features these characters, that’s not what the content is about. Conversely, although Calvin’s essay title may describe what his essay covers, it isn’t easily understood. In most situations, headlines should be direct and concise.

Fifth, and finally, is to read. If you want to write well, you need to make time to read. Not only will it broaden your understanding, but also you’ll slowly pick up on the differences between good and bad writing. Reading is a great source of inspiration for writers.

Add these tips to your rhetorical toolkit for clear, effective writing!



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Save The Whales: A Guide to Social Media Success

Check out this 6 minute TED Talk by Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, in which he uses a Greenpeace campaign to highlight strategies for success in social media. Although it was posted in 2009, it contains relevant information pertaining to digital rhetoric, the affordances of media, and the power of community. I thought his most interesting piece of advice (and the biggest lesson Greenpeace learned during its campaign) was that it’s ok to lose control. Once you post something online, you no longer completely own the message – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Letting your audience “play” with your message can be risky, but as long as you’re clear about what you ultimately stand for, it can also be a very smart move. Greenpeace’s unintended Reddit audience took control of the message in a way that led to the creation of a movement and ultimately had political impact.


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ASPCA: The Danger of Pathos

Almost all of you have seen this ASPCA video at least once, if not twenty or thirty times. You probably either cry, tear up or immediately change the channel. Maybe some of you make comments about the poor puppies, while others probably claim that commercials like it should not be allowed on television. Sarah McLachlan’s “Arms of an Angel” will never affect anybody the same. Images of sad dogs flood your mind as soon as the first chord is played.

Regardless of our individual reaction, almost all of us become somber. Animal-lovers and non-animal lovers alike let their pretenses fade away as sensitivity takes their place. Maybe some people donate, while others are just encompassed by the sadness of it all. There is only one word for this- pathos.

As the music flows through us and our eyes fixate on the suffering dogs, we feel the emotions that we are supposed to feel, that we are being forced to feel. ASPCA knew the reaction that it wanted viewers to get, and it made sure they did.

However, most of us stop there. We either pity the puppies but then get up to get a snack before the commercial break is over, or we hug our own dog a little tighter. Maybe we donate some money. But most likely, we don’t go beyond that. Chances are we do not investigate the organization orchestrating this emotional appeal.

In reality, ASPCA does not do what they claim to do in terms of helping animals. When former President  Ed Sayres left the organization, more and more reports came out about his terrible treatment of animals. He released manuals which taught directors of shelters how to fight No Kill reform efforts, and he did not invest ASPCA money like he claimed to have done. And the worst part is that this is common of ASPCA presidents. The amount of money invested in paying employees also exceeds the amount that most people would deem to be “acceptable”, which might stop people from donating or supporting ASPCA, if they took the time to find this out.

Most people are too drawn in by pathos to imagine that there might not be a completely reputable company behind an alluring emotional appeal. Regardless of the wrong that ASPCA has done or is claimed to have done, those of us who support it without question because of the commercials are also in the wrong. Pathos is a powerful appeal that really does have the ability to mask our sense of logic in situations like this one.

Take it upon yourself to research organizations that have mastered the use of pathos so that you do not fall prey to the deception that can be caused. Read articles such as this one about a false lawsuit ASPCA filed and find others yourself in order to better understand the organization behind the sad dogs.

Have you ever looked into ASPCA after watching the commercial? What do you think about ASPCA?


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Understanding Someone Else’s Point of View

G and UHarvard Business Review‘s Mark Goulston and John Ullmen discuss how influential people strive for commitment by using various, what I would call, rhetorical strategies to engage others. Goulston and Ullmen claim that there are three steps for “real influence” that we need to engage others:

1. Situational Awareness: Show that You Get “It”

2. Personal Awareness: You Get “Them”

3. Solution Awareness: You Get Their Path to Progress

By using the example of trying to explain where you are in a shopping mall to your friend, Goulston and Ullmen believe that we often try to convince others based on our point of view. But, in order to improve our communications skills, we need to make better rhetorical choices by explaining how our friend can reach us from their point of view.

In Rhetoric, we tend to focus on the rhetorical triangle’s context of the situation, the audience, message, speaker, and purpose. By showing that we understand our audience’s “challenges,” then we are now about to offer additional ideas that work from their perspective. We can also use rhetoric to relate to their purpose and try to connect with them. And finally, by showing people that we understand their situation, we become better communicators and makes things more better and more clear.

Goulston and Ullmen say, “When you’re trying to influence, don’t start by trying to pull others into your here. Instead, go to their there by asking yourself:

– Am I getting who this person is?

– Am I getting this person’s situation?

– Am I offering options and alternatives that will help this person move forward?

– Does this person get that I get it?”


What do you think about these ideas? Would this help people become better communicators? Are there other ways rhetoric can assist in speaking to others?


Check out the full article here.

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Branding in a New Light

“Personal branding is a leadership requirement, not a self-promotion campaign.”

Over the past three years I have been developing my personal brand so that I could advance myself as a professional in the career world. However, what I didn’t know is how social media has been affecting how individuals brand themselves.  By learning that “your social media brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving” I realized that I should manage my personal brand by looking towards becoming a role model. Then I will be able to attract more readers by offering something valuable that will hopefully engage them.

As I have seen through my work and branding with Digication, I realize how important the reflections are in the beginning of each section. By being able to engage my reader by telling them what I did and what I learned, I am becoming a better brand that readers will be more interested in learning about because I have taken so much time to shape it.

In the bigger picture, many companies struggle with the voice of their brand. By really shaping their image from the idea of serving others rather than promoting yourself, they will becoming more approachable. If their brand isn’t clear among various people, then they need to change their voice and market themselves as leaders, someone who is looking to engage and learn.

By defining and living by your personal brand, it will become easier to perform actions and serve at your optimal levels. By keeping this in mind you are more likely to be an accountable teammate and others will look forward to working with you.

“Personal branding is no longer an option; it’s a powerful leadership enabler.”

What do you think about the link between branding and leadership? Should it be taught a different way?

For more on branding and leadership, check out this site.

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Building a Personal Brand

ellenMy name is Ellen Fraser, and I am a junior English/PWR and Art History major with a minor in Spanish. This semester, I am taking the CUPID Studio class, and something that we focus on a lot in class is developing an online portfolio of our work using software called Digication.

In general, I am excited about putting my portfolio together because I have a lot of content to share and I expect it will be a nice place to showcase the variety of written work of which I am capable.

For anyone who is planning on completing a portfolio, I would suggest that you be smart with your rhetorical decisions – make sure the way that you organize your content makes sense. There should not be a newsletter that you made during your internship in your academic writing section. Also, be careful about what you name your sections. Are they short enough so that readers don’t get lost when they are trying to figure out what the section contains? Finally, it is important to showcase different pieces based upon who your audience is for the portfolio. If you are marketing yourself to a potential employer, make sure that you include content that specifically shows the skills that you have which make you the best candidate for the job.

Consider Personal Branding
In my opinion, the most challenging thing about putting together a portfolio is developing your personal brand. You have to think about who you are professionally, which is a very difficult question to answer as an undergraduate student. For example, I love bright pink and crazy patterns, but these would not be appropriate design choices for a personal brand. Certain colors have certain connotations, and I would never want any future employer to think I was an Elle Woods-type (even though she did end up succeeding as a top-notch lawyer in the end).

In terms of advice for facing this challenge, I would say to stay true to yourself, but tone it down or amp it up if you think that people are going to think you are either not serious or too serious. What do you want your personal brand color to communicate to your audience? Check out this video called “What Color is Your Brand?”

Also, be rhetorically smart when choosing images. Do not just decorate your portfolio with random patterns. For example, if you had a wonderful study abroad experience, and you include pieces of writing that you did while you were there in your portfolio, include photos as well. Visuals never fail at helping to paint a picture of a description for your audience.

I’m looking forward to putting together this portfolio not only for future employers to see, but also for myself in an effort to reflect on all that I have experienced and accomplished professionally during my four years at Elon. This portfolio will be a demonstration of both academic and professional writing and design that I hope will help prospective students want to join the PWR community. English/PWR is such a versatile major, and everyone seeking to join the professional world should know how to write and market themselves well. Learning how to put together this portfolio has taught me how to do this.

If you want more advice on developing you personal brand, check out this video by personal branding guru, William Arruda. “You have to know yourself to grow yourself!”

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What Skills Are Needed in the Publishing World?

Publishing industry website Publishing Perspectives recently posted an article about the types of skills people in the publishing industry need to have as the industry changes. e-Books and tablets are changing the way people read, and print-on-demand services like Blurb and Lulu allow authors without agent representation to publish their own work and even sell it on Amazon.

Based on an interview with Faber CEO Stephen Page, the article posits that “publishing needs ambitious, positive people for whom technology comes naturally, facility with social media is a given and who have a desire to build all manner of services for writers and readers.”


How might understanding professional writing and rhetoric enable you to enter the new “multiverse” of publishing?


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How to Avoid Virtual Miscommunication

Guest Blogger Miranda Allan ‘15

We have all fallen into the trap of technological miscommunications. An ellipsis here, an exclamation point there, and suddenly a harmless conversation via text escalates into an argument. What has happened here?

As discussed in the Harvard Business Review, miscommunication occurring on technology’s many platforms emerges from a lack of contextual evidence which hitherto we have relied upon in conversation. Body language leaves little room for error and is sacrificed in virtual conversations. To compensate for this, especially in the workplace, writer Keith Ferrazzi suggests being slightly more heavy-handed in tone. Save the subtleties for face-to-face interaction; on the internet it’s best to assume that any slight ambiguity will be misconstrued.

The article offers six overarching tips to prevent confusion. First, empathize with the person at other end of the conversation. Would you understand your email? Are there environmental or psychographic constraints at play? The old adage of “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes” would not go amiss here.

In a workplace, it is also important to be aware of your coworkers’ different communication styles. If at the first meeting your team explains preferences, tendencies, and even past miscommunications, it is less likely that you will run into communication issues.

Furthermore, be aware of what is known as signal amplification bias, or the inclination to believe you express yourself clearly, despite what others may feel. It is unlikely that you could be overly explanatory, so give yourself permission to push past what you believe is adequate transparency.

Different mediums have different implications, so be mindful that you are using the right form of technology to convey yourself. You wouldn’t fire someone over text, so you should know that some virtual forms of communication are more appropriate than others.

Be prompt with your replies. No one likes waiting around for an answer, especially on business matters, so don’t make others wait either.

Lastly, due to the prevalence of communicative technologies in our personal lives it is easy to see where unprofessional or sloppy emailing originates. A business environment is not the place for casual language, which can give off the impression that a worker is not taking his or her responsibilities seriously on top of likely leading to miscommunication and errors.

Are you taking notes, Elon? We communicate virtually with many different offices, professors, organizations, and even off-campus businesses, and we want to ensure that our information is conveyed as seamlessly and clearly as possible. So, keep these tips in mind the next time you rattle off an email.


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