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June 6, 1980

Laurel V. Schaubert: the value of visuals

JAMA. 1980;243(21):2131-2133. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300470005002

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"There. That's what I mean by visual static," says Laurel Schaubert, leafing through a medical journal. "No one can possibly take in all the material in that graph without studying it for about a half hour.

"Visual static is something that interrupts the message," she explains, "because you have to stop and figure out what the illustration is trying to say. You find it in so many medical journals.

"Now if those authors had just come to us...." She laughs. "Or if the journal even had an art director."

Laurel Schaubert is hardly satisfied with the state of medical illustration in most medical and scientific journals. The same goes for many oral presentations accompanied by slides.

As for books and pamphlets, they vary. Some are dismal and confusing in terms of illustrations. Others are clearer and more vivid because of them. A certain line of soft-cover medical books, for example,