The Visual Rhetoric of Signs: A Practice-Based Project on the Effects of Public Transport Information Design

Schneller, Annina (2013). The Visual Rhetoric of Signs: A Practice-Based Project on the Effects of Public Transport Information Design In: Annie W.Y. Ng and Alan S. Chan (eds.): Signs and Symbols for Workplace and Public Use (pp. 43-62). New York: Nova Science

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Information design, especially in the area of public transport, differs from advertising and other areas of commercial graphics in that it involves a weaker intention to create visual effects or to influence viewers. The visual rhetoric of wayfinding and information signs found at railway stations, subways or bus stops is of a rather restrained, if not neutral, nature. Nevertheless, their informing, orientating or warning function is essential for travellers and can be a fundamental element of safety precautions. Is visual neutrality thus the best way to inform travellers, or should information design in this area be more conspicuous or compelling? A Bern University of the Arts research project investigated into the visual effects of public transport information design. The research comprised both theoretical determination of intended visual effects and design rules of travel information design, as described in style manuals and by experts in the field, and practical creation and empirical testing of possible alternative effects of railway station signage. One example of public transport design explored in the project is the warning sign ―Stay back of safety line!‖ found on train platforms. Being aware of the sign and its message can be vital – but how flashy, obtrusive or even emotionally or morally touching should its visual rhetoric be?

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute of Design Research


Schneller, Annina


B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration


Nova Science




[UNSPECIFIED] SNF: Visuelle Rhetorik 2 – Regeln, Spielräume und rhetorischer Nullpunkt im Informationsdesign am Beispiel öV




Annina Schneller

Date Deposited:

09 Mar 2020 10:03

Last Modified:

30 Nov 2020 15:38

Uncontrolled Keywords:

information design, public transport, rhetorical neutrality, functionalism, design rhetoric, visual rhetoric


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