Volume 15, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


Software has become ubiquitous in higher education, especially often taken-for-granted Microsoft Word. Educational writing involves more than horizontal lines of text, but also multimodal representations. When students write in Word, the affordances of the program constrain what multimodal representations of knowledge they can and cannot make. Software such as Word is not neutral tool-kits, but also historical and semiotic constructs loaded with social values and ideologies. By taking a social semiotic approach to Word and SmartArt, this article shows how this software is pre-loaded with values and styles from office management. These values are then infused into education, in the case this article investigates, grammar models in language studies.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Adami, Elizabetta , and Gunther Kress
    2010 “The Social Semiotics of Convergent Mobile Devices: New Forms of Composition and the Transformation of Habitus”. InMultimodality. A social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication by Gunther Kress , 184–204. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Arlov, Per
    1997Microsoft Office 97 – Professional. Oslo: IDG Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Bertelsen, Olav , and Søren Pold
    2004 “Criticism as an Approach to Interface Aesthetics.” InProceedings of the third Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, 23–32. New York: ACM. doi: 10.1145/1028014.1028018
    https://doi.org/10.1145/1028014.1028018 [Google Scholar]
  4. Danielsen, Kristin
    1991Innføringskurs i Microsoft Word [Introduction Course to Microsoft Word]. Sandefjord: Easy Data.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Djonov, Emilia , and Theo van Leeuwen
    2011 “The Semiotics of Texture.” Visual Communication10(4): 541–564. doi: 10.1177/1470357211415786
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1470357211415786 [Google Scholar]
  6. 2013a “Between the Grid and Composition: Layout in PowerPoint’s Design and Use.” Semiotica197: 1–34. doi: 10.1515/sem‑2013‑0078
    https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0078 [Google Scholar]
  7. 2013b “Bullet Points, New Writing, and the Marketization of Public Discourse. A Critical Multimodal Perspective.” InCritical Multimodal Studies of Popular Discourse, edited by Emilia Djonov , and Sumin Zhao , 232–250. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Edwards, Benji
    2008 “Microsoft Word Turns 25” I InPC World. AccessedDecember 10. 2015www.pcworld.com/article/152585/microsoft_word_program.html#slide1.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Fairclough, Norman
    2003Analysing Discourse. Textual Analysis for Social Research. London and New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. 1996 “Technologisation of Discourse”. InText and Practices. Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis, edited byCarmen Caldas-Couthard, and Malcolm Coulthard, 71–83. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. 1995Critical Discourse Analysis. The Critical Study of Language. London: Harlow.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Forbes
    . Undated. “The World’s Biggest Public Companies.” AccessedDecember 10. 2015, www.forbes.com/global2000/.
  13. Fuller, Matthew
    (ed.) 2008Software Studies – a Lexicon. Cambridge: MIT Press. doi: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262062749.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/9780262062749.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  14. 2003Behind the Blip – Essays on the Culture of Software. New York: Autonomedia.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Husby, Monica , Kjell Willersrud , and Roar Fjeldbo
    1994Microsoft Word 6.0. Videregående kurs. Med øvingsdiskett [Microsoft Word 6.0 Advanced Course. With Exercise Disk]. Sandefjord: Easy Data.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Husby, Monica , Roar Fjeldbo , and Kjell Willersrud
    1995Microsoft Word – versjon 6.0, norsk. Videregående kurs – med øvingsdiskett [Microsoft Word – Version 6.0, Norwegian. Advanced Course - with Exercise Disk]. Sandefjord: Easy Data.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Jewitt, Carey , and Gunther Kress
    2003Multimodal Literacy. New York: Peter Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Kress, Gunther , and Theo van Leeuwen
    2006 [1996]Reading Images. The Grammar of Visual Design. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Kuldbrandstad, Lars Anders
    2005Språkets mønstre. Grammatiske begreper og metoder [Patterns of language. Grammatical Concepts and Methods]. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Kvåle, Gunhild
    2015 “Multimodale modellar i Microsoft Word. Programvare som semiotisk ressurs” [Multimodal Models in Microsoft Word. Software as Semiotic Resource]. InKontekst, språk og multimodalitet. Nyere sosialsemiotiske perspektiver [Context, Language and Multimodality. New Perspectives from Social Semiotics], edited by Gunhild Kvåle , Eva Maagerø , and Aslaug Veum , 153–169. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Ljunggren, Margaret
    1998Avansert Microsoft Word 97. Step by Step [Advanced Microsoft Word 97. Step by Step]. Nesbru: Vett & Viten AS.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Machin, David , and Andrea Mayr
    2012How to do Critical Discourse Analysis. A Multimodal Introduction. Los Angeles: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Machin, David , and Theo van Leeuwen
    2005 “Language Style and Lifestyle: the Case of a Global Magazine.” Media, Culture & Society27 (4): 577–600. doi: 10.1177/0163443705054151
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443705054151 [Google Scholar]
  24. Manovich, Lev
    2001The Language of New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. 2013Software Takes Command. New York: Bloomsbury.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Microsoft
    Microsoft. Undated. “Create a SmartArt Graphic.” AccessedDecember 10. 2015, https://support.office.com/en-ca/article/Create-a-SmartArt-graphic-fac94c93-500b-4a0a-97af-124040594842.
  27. Microsoft
    Microsoft 1983 “Undo. Windows.” (Microsoft Word advertisment). Retrieved fromByte. The Small Systems Journal8 (12): 90–91.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Van Leeuwen, Theo
    2005Introducing Social Semiotics. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Van Leeuwen, Theo , Emilia Djonov , and Kay O’Halloran
    2013 “David Byrne really does Love PowerPoint. Art as Research on Semiotics and Semiotic Technology.” Social Semiotics23 (3): 490–423. doi: 10.1080/10350330.2012.738998
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10350330.2012.738998 [Google Scholar]
  30. Zhao, Sumin , Emilia Djonov , and Theo van Leeuwen
    2014 “Semiotic Technology and Practice: a Multimodal Social Semiotic Approach to PowerPoint.” Text & Talk34(3): 349–375. doi: 10.1515/text‑2014‑0005
    https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2014-0005 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error