Skip to Main Content
Link to CSU Home
Link to CSU Home
Students in the Library

Michael Schwartz Library

Students in the Connection Lounge
Michael Schwartz Library

Multimodal Composition

Resources, tools, and tips for creating multimodal composition or project.

Digital Design Studio consultations

Working on a multimodal or digital project? If you have questions about where to start, what tools to use or how to use them, how you can incorporate other media while complying with copyright, or anything else along the way, consider making an appointment for a Digital Design Studio consultation. Use the scheduler in the Librarian Profile box on the left side of this page for an appointment with a librarian who can discuss your project with you. 

What is a Multimodal Composition?

Multimodal composition is the act of creating texts that communicate to a specific audience (often employing digital rhetoric) using any of a range of modes or technologies. Because, as a student, you are situated in a "digital age" that requires adopting new technologies and communicating in new digital writing spaces, multimodal composition develops important, relevant skills for you both in college and beyond. This guide explores several issues that come into play when you build a multimodal project:

  • Finding Material for Your Project - Because multimodal projects involve a variety of communication modes (including visual methods), you might need to find material created by others to use in your project. This tab explores where you might find useful material and why the copyright status of that material is important. It also gives you options for tools you might use for your project.
  • Evaluating Online Information - As you compile information and resources into your project, it's important that you carefully evaluate it for quality and accuracy. This tab gives you some strategies for evaluating information you find online.
  • Digital Identity and Privacy - As a composer in a digital space, your content might be visible to others, even people you don't know. This tab helps you manage your privacy in online spaces so you can retain control over your sensitive information and your digital persona.
  • Avoiding Plagiarism - When you share your work in an online space, you have a responsibility as a steward of that information. As you integrate resources into your multimodal project, citing sources is an essential part of the process. This tab will give you tips for avoiding plagiarism in your multimodal project.

If you have questions about any of the topics above as you compose your multimodal project, feel free to contact a librarian for your help (our contact information is below) and we're happy to talk it through with you!

Important Definitions

Digital literacy - "the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills" (American Library Association).

Digital rhetoric - "the application of rhetorical theory ... to digital texts and performances" (Douglas Eyman).

Information literacy - "the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning" (Association of College and Research Libraries).

Multimodal texts - texts that "exceed the alphabetic and may include still and moving images, animations, color, words, music, and sound" (Takyoshi and Selfe).

New media - texts that have been created for the purpose of being online

Rhetoric - the art of persuasion

Digital Rhetoric

Recall that rhetoric as defined by Aristotle is "the art of persuasion." Aristotle identified three methods of persuasion:

  1. Ethos - appeal to the credibility or character of the source
  2. Pathos - appeal to emotion
  3. Logos - appeal to logic and reasoning

When communicating in a digital environment, these methods of persuasion often come into play, as well as some other activities. These include developing a digital identity, building up social communities, and questioning ideologies and cultural formation (Eyman). As you develop your multimodal project, consider how how it contributes to these additional activities. Does participation in your project develop your own or others' digital identity? Is there an element of community or social interaction? Does the text in your project question issues that are relevant to that community?

Multimodal Texts

Guide Credit

This resource guide contains content created by Mandi Goodsett, Melanie Gagich, and Ben Richards