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By John Bateman

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Extra resources for Analysing Multimodal Documents: A Foundation for the Systematic Analysis of Multimodal Documents

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This is not as straightforward as it might initially seem. Even for a printed document, where we can get the whole of the document into our hands, so to speak, there are important questions about the units that we consider. Do we consider just the physical unit of a page or, if the layout so indicates, do we consider the two-page spread? Or, a further alternative, if we are in a magazine and a single article runs over several pages, do we consider that to be the unit whose parts we consider? The situation becomes much worse when we turn to new media and consider websites: what are the boundaries of a website?

These are defined as follows: “By rhetorical cluster I mean a group of text elements designed to work together as a functional unit within a document. Rhetorical clusters act as readeroriented modules of purposeful and related content. ” (Schriver 1997, p343) Identifying such rhetorical clusters is then one of the basic steps proposed by Schriver for ‘seeing the text’, for describing and analysing what goes into a page design. Schriver suggests several particular examples of rhetorical clusters, such as ‘illustrations with annotations and explanations’, ‘body text with footnotes’ and ‘procedural instructions with visual examples’; we will see other examples below.

Genre plays a particularly central role throughout our account of multimodality documents in three interlinked ways. 3 A continuum of visual-textual deployment adapted from Bernhardt (1985, p20) First, genre is already used in an informal sense in many discussions of documents of all kinds, including those explicitly identified as multimodal. We hear increasingly often of the ‘genre of websites’, the ‘genre of newspapers’, the ‘genre of homepages’ and so on. It is important, therefore, to understand more precisely the sense in which this is being done.

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