Below is the visual and digital literacy lexicon. If you are looking for a term and cannot find it, let me know! This is a dynamic document.


accessibility: In terms of composition and digital rhetoric, the term accessibility refers to how a document or text is designed to reach its audience. Here, we refer to the design of a document or text (website, essay, etc) to make it available to those who may have disabilities. See this website for ways to make your digital texts widely accessible: Creating accessible websites

affordances: Affordances are the qualities or properties of any technology (in our case as site) that define what that technology is able to do. All technologies have affordances and limitations/constraints.

Akismet, WordPress spam blocker plug-in

appearance: Appearance refers to how a website looks to the general viewer [also see front end]. As the admin, you can control the appearance of your site through the dashboard on the back end of your site. Look on your dashboard, usually on the left sidebar, for Appearance, in which you can change things like themeswidgetsmenus, and headers [see lexicon for definitions of these terms].

attribution: providing original source information (author/photographer, title of work, date). In a conventional essay, this would also be a citation. WordPress attributions are placed in the media settings upon upload [also see media library]

back end: What you see when you compose on your blog site (/admin). The back end is hidden from viewers and is only available through a user password. Consider the back end to be the area of a stage that is behind the curtains; it is closed to the audience but visible to the crew. [see also front end]

blog: A shortened version of the word weblog, a blog is a regularly updated webpage that is dated like a journal or diary. Each entry on a blog is called a post.

“For me, a blog is more than just a place to post new content on a regular (or, lately, semi-regular) basis. It’s a hub for people to share their thoughts around my contributions to the industry (in my case, startups & marketing), and a home for anyone to discover new ideas about those topics.”

– Rand Fishkin / Make sure you check out his super-awesome post titled “21 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic“.

blogroll: a page that accumulates posts, the newest one usually appearing at the top. Our blogroll will contain links to other students’ sites.

caption: a space for attribution and metadata. Captions usually accompany pictures and other media. [also see media library]

child page: Pages are ranked by hierarchy. Sub-pages found under other pages are called child pages, because they are ranked second in the hierarchy. Pages follow a family tree naming system, so child pages have parents and grandchildren, etc.  [see also page and parent page]

categories: Descriptive words that broadly identify the topic of a page or post. We will decide as a group which categories to set up, guided by the question what would be most useful for us as students and readers?

composing in the medium: by composing directly in the blog space, the affordances and constraints of the medium will influence not just how you compose your work, but the meaning of what you’re composing as well.

constraints: Constraints refer to the limits of a technology. A constraint is what the design of the site doesn’t enable you to do. THese are usually linked with affordances; in learning the affordances and constraints of a technology, we understand more about its purpose and usability. (Domain of One’s Own): GSU rented server space that we will be using in our class. (As the author of your site, you can take over payments post-university, which means you have the opportunity to keep your domain for as long as you like)


dashboard: The dashboard is the admin page on the back end of your site. On your dashboard, you will see options for composing, editing, formatting, and arranging text, as well as managing widgets, plug-ins, etc.

description: In the media library, the description is a detailed written explanation of what an image or video shows (not just ‘what it is’). Descriptions increase accessibility to blind readers, who have software that can read the descriptions. For this reason, it is important to craft your descriptions carefully.  [also see media library and accessibility]

discussion/comments: For our purposes, I ask that you enable comments to encourage discussion. While there is a “moderate” setting, this slows down the conversation process, which is a part of the process of this class.

domain name: As defined by, domain names are used to “identify one or more IP addresses. For example, the domain name represents about a dozen IP addresses. Domain names are used in URLs to identify particular Web pages. For example, in the URL, the domain name is” ( When considering your domain name, think rhetorically, and choose something that will last past any fads. [see URL]

embed/iframe code: Embed/iframe codes are links that can be set into a website or web page through the visual/text tabs. On my website, for instance, I have embedded a course calendar that links to my google calendar. This code can be inserted in the “text” tab. We will experiment with this in our set-up.

footer: Like the header, a footer is the bottom section of a website that where organizing information can be store. Footer info is usually bottom-page in nature, like contact info, and is optional in some themes.

front end: The front end is what readers see when they access a URL. Consider the front end a stage on which a play is performed, so only the finished product is available from the front end. [see also back end]

headers: Headers are sections of the webpage in which primary information might be placed. Headers are the most logical place in many themes for organizing information. Often, headers will include logos or navigation bars. [see also footer and sidebar].

Hyperlink: See link


limitations: see constraints

links: A link, or hyperlinkis a line of HTML code that allows a reader to jump to a new location when clicked or tapped. Links create doors to help readers navigate between pages on a site or on the web. These links can be attached to text, images, or other HTML elements.

linking/unlinking: Linking or “hyperlinking” is the act of connecting a hypertext file or document to another location or file, typically activated by clicking on a highlighted word or image on the screen. Linking and unlinking buttons are located in the text bar at the top of the text box and resemble chain links either connected or broken. is a training resource available through the university technology website. The resource houses hundreds of training videos and modules that can teach digital skills. In some cases, you can even achieve a certificate that can be useful for future jobs, etc.

media assets: Media assets are any files downloaded for use on the site. These can include artifacts like videos, images, sound files, .pdf and .docx files, etc.

media library: On a website, a media library is a repository for your media assets.

menu: On a website, a menu is the list of pages available to the viewer. The menu creates a means for readers to access and read your pages. IF a page isn’t attached to the menu, it won’t be visible or accessible on the front end of the site.

metadata: Metadata is data that gives information about other data – it provides information about another item’s content or properties. For our purposes, metadata will include titles, categories, and tags. [see also titles, categories, and tags]

multimodality: communication occurs in five modes (gestural, aural, visual, linguistic, spatial).


page: A single instance of a digital text. On websites, pages are single texts that are linked through the menu. For instance, a website may have a home page, and about page, etc.

parent page: Pages are ranked by hierarchy. Pages that have sub-pages are called parent pages, because they are at the top of the hierarchy. [see also page and child page]

plug-ins: A plug-in, like a widget, is a small bit of software that works with or supplements a larger program. WordPress has many free plug-ins, although some cost money. Pro tip: read the instructions! [also see widgets]

post: A post is a single “entry” on a page that is regularly updated.

public awareness: This is akin to audience awareness. When composing for a public, online space composition must be mindful and thoughtful. Consider private/public options… other/non-digital options…what ethos you want your site to cultivate (professional, personal, etc.). It is up to you.

resource management: resource management refers to the efficient development of effective components. If you are trying to find a way to make something work but are having a hard time, don’t spend too much time trying to figure out how to make something happen. Instead, contact you instructor or peers or move in another direction. You can come back to it later. Remember that we have a limited amount of time and your site will always be evolving throughout the course. 


search bar: The search bar is a rectangular space in which you can type, like a browser’s search bar. On websites, search bars are used to search for and identify information within that site.

sidebar: A sidebar is a widget-ready section of the website that is often left- or right-aligned. Some themes will even have two sidebars.Traditional sidebar info can include calendars, a blogroll, search bar or archive menu. Sidebars are optional on some themes.

sites@gsu (WordPress blog): GSU owned server space.

static page: a page that you can make the “front page” of your blog. It is non-dynamic, meaning it does not change unless you make changes to it.

storyboarding: creating a visual plan for your composition, often used for brainstorming or outlining.

settings: The settings can be found on your dashboard and set the parameters for several areas of the site, including site title, tagline, language, enabling or disabling comments, etc. Familiarizing yourself with this page can be helpful for a host of reasons.

spam: Spam is unsolicited or inappropriate messages, usually commercial, which are sent digitally to a large number of recipients. They will appear as emails, or in the comments section of a blog or website. Pro-tips to avoiding spam:

tags: Tags are like categories, but more specific. These are purpose-driven and audience-driven, but also serve as searchable metadata, so their use as an organizing tool must also be considered. One popular use of tags is the hashtag on twitter.

themes: Website themes are pre-packaged designs that organize and present your content. Themes have rhetorical, aesthetic, and useful purposes. For this reason, not all themes work well for what you want to do with your site, so be considerate in choosing a theme. Think about your ethos, the purpose of the site, how it can be navigated and how much or how little it will let you do.

titles: The name of a section or page. In creating this, think both organizationally and rhetorically (beyond the course).

URL: URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It refers to the address of a website, a specific webpage or file on the internet.

widgets: Originally meant to refer to an unspecified gadget, web widgets are small, discrete applications that can be embedded into a site or page and perform simple tasks. Widgets can be managed on the dashboard page.