Student Resources

Multimodal Composition Projects

Our center helps students transfer classic composition skills to different mediums. Possible mediums may include podcasts, video, live-streaming, and other interactive media.

Multimodal composition takes several modes of creation and blends them in varying ways. There are five main modes of communication: visual, audio, gestural, spatial, and linguistic.

The visual mode focuses on aesthetics; that is, what can be transmitted through how something looks. This can be anything from color choice for a PowerPoint or using the right image for a meme. It includes typeface, lines, shapes, background, color, transitions, quality of images, visual coherence, repetition, and contrast.

The audio mode focuses on sound (or lack thereof) to make its impact. This can be anything from codeswitching into AAVE or pidgins to long pauses used for emphasis. It includes intonation of spoken text, sound effects, ambient noise, music, volume, silence, and transitions from different audio clips.

The gestural mode focuses on physicality to produce meaning. This can be anything from the way a speaker paces, fidgets, or sits in a chair. It includes facial expressions, gestures, and body language.

The spatial mode is similar to the visual mode but focuses more on the entire piece's placement and coherence. This could be anything from designing where advertisements appear on a website to the size of a chart in a paper or poster presentation. It includes line spacing, navigation, transitions, page size, size of photos, the proximity of photos and other elements to each other, line length, visual salience, white space, visual organization, and alignment.

The linguistic mode is most familiar to students as it focuses on the organization of ideas and the appropriate use of words to communicate. This can be a text message, an academic essay, even a tweet. It includes written text or spoken words/narration, word choice, delivery, and organization of ideas.

In multimodal projects, creators may use two or more modes of communication to impact their audience. For example, successful podcasts determine how formal or informal the language will be (linguistic), whether there will be music or a theme song (audio), and what the searchable thumbnail for the podcast will look like (visual). Another example would be a poster board presentation at a conference. The creator must consider size and layout (spatial), what information to include or exclude (linguistic), and what colors and fonts will be used (visual).

Some questions to consider when designing your multimodal project:

  1. Is there an audience for my topic?
  2. What medium will work best for my topic? How can I best reach them?
  3. Are the modes I am using working together? Are they balanced and engaging or overwhelming and unnecessarily complicated?
  4. Am I combining too many modes?
  5. Do I want to have a dialogue with my audience? How can they reach me?
  6. Do I have an outline, storyboard, or script to ensure I am organized and clear?
  7. Did I edit and revise? Check for language, grammatical errors, sound issues, and formatting issues.

Below you can find links to some multimodal projects from Morehouse students to inspire your projects.

For assistance with writing assignments, click here to register an account and schedule a 30-minute appointment with a writing tutor.