Text with graphical complements

While the most common form of text presentation is still bound to eligible typography custodies, every so often people like to »play around« with text. Wether by breaking type setting »rules« or expanding the standard repertoire they impose a new level of information to the text. This new layer may be working for or against the words, it may support or dispossess the content.
Just like the film score for the film, the visualization can be paraphrasing, contrapuntal or polarising for the content of the written words.

Within text many different forms of information may be hold, even on different levels. For example:

  • data in form of actual letters, words and their positions within the text resulting from the chosen language and the authors wording
  • appearance, positions and relations between words in regard to the content
  • more qualitative values like the atmosphere, which may be not directly given from specific, individual words but their interrelation and interaction

These example are highly interwoven and a single information or visualization could not be definitely positioned. And still the designer needs to consider these different levels, just as the author constructs the story with respect to all the different layers.

The following visualizations exemplify how intentional graphical complements provide an additional value to the text.


The free online translation tool Linguee does not directly translate words but softly highlights corresponding text elements in the adverse language. Just an atmosphere translations from one language to another are not always literal. Linguee solves this by marking ranges rather than concrete points.


The project silenc by the students from the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design quantitatively analyzed silent letters in various languages. In this example the visualized data comes from the given languages and simply but powerful shows disparities in languages.
Silenc project

Concrete poetry

In this style of art the arrangement of the words defined by the author itself is being considered as important as the content of the words itself. The position of the letter – which should be recognized as a form visualization – is a simple but surprisingly efficient form of expression.
Concrete Poetry