Communication of technical information in Latin America, Communication of technical information in Spain, Communication of technical information in the United States, Hofstede, Geert H, Visual communication


My thesis discusses whether culture can be used to predict visual design preferences in documentation and whether cultures with similar attributes demonstrate similar visual design preferences. The visual design of a document is an important element in effective communication to an audience. If the audience is outside the United States, it is important to understand the attributes of that culture to create documents that are most effective for the audience. Cultural theorist Geert Hofstede describes cultural attributes in terms of six cultural dimensions: individualism versus collectivism, high versus low power distance, high versus low uncertainty avoidance, masculinity versus femininity, long-term versus short-term orientation, and indulgence versus restraint. This thesis explores whether we can identify visual design preferences in high uncertainty avoidance cultures and high power distance cultures, such as Spain and Latin American countries. To explore this topic, a study was done on sample report documents from a single company which operates in the United States, Latin America and Spain. Choosing only one company to collect samples from provided a way of discounting different corporate cultures as an influence on standards, tools and how documents are developed. As a framework for comparison of the documents, Kostelnick's visual design matrix was used to analyze the documents for graphics, data displays, document unifiers, decoding devices, and cuing devices. The results show that some elements of visual design can be predicted by cultural attribute, and there is a correlation between different cultures and their preference for similar design elements. iv For U.S. technical communicators working on documents for Latin American and Spanish audiences, documents need to be shorter in length with simple data displays and need to use more cuing devices to be effective for audiences in these cultures. This study also shows that for technical communicators designing documents for audiences in other cultures, studying the audience and the specific attributes of that culture will provide direction on how to design an effective technical document for that audience.


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Flammia, Madelyn


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities










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Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic, Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities