Format: What form do they take?
Format summary table: graphic portions, graphics, text, icons, numbers and symbols

Text Menu

The designation of an anchor using any format privileges that portion of the node. The anchor takes on a semiotic significance beyond its place in the narrative or graphic structure.

Authors use these approaches to promote various efferent and aesthetic interactions.

An entire graphic

This approach is commonly used with pop-up and banner ads. These ads generally consist of a single graphic that also serves as an anchor to a link leading to the product page. These graphics pull attention away from any other screen (such as your mail or news) as the eye follows the picture.

As this is a self contained world, it can be more complex and tell stories.

A portion of an overall graphic

When the anchor is embedded as part of a graphic, the author then must decide if the entire graphic will be segmented by different anchors (in which case, the graphic becomes a graphical menu for the anchors e.g., Fuddruckers [19]) or if the anchor is an attempt to draw readers’ attentions and interpretations to a specific part of the graphic (As Saturn [60], Garnier Fructis [20], and Zenobia, Queen of Palmyria [10] do).

Graphics provide a nonverbal reference that transcends language and translation. The graphic also changes significance with the context: a juicy cheeseburger on a website advertising a restaurant has a different emotional outlook than the same cheeseburger on a site devoted to anorexia and eating disorders.


Readers quickly learn to associate certain icons with their function. When used uniformly, icons can effectively steer readers through expected portions of the site (e.g., arrows for indicating the next or previous level or node, a Google(TM)-like color text for search, or an envelope for mail).

The same icons are used on many different sites, which allow readers a common vocabulary. These can be misused (an icon showing an envelope may lead to a stationary store) and subvert reader expectations. This would result in a frustration that could be capitalized on in an aesthetic site, but would function poorly for an efferent site.


Textual anchors can be portions of a word, a single word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, or section of text. When the anchor is limited to a word or a phrase, readers are more likely to engage in interpreting the semiotic connections of the anchor to the node, and the small text anchor becomes a signifier for the entire nodal context.

Readers engage at the textual level of the anchor, particularly in embedded anchors. For example, if the anchor is on "father" the reader looks at a word level, exploring semiotic relationships between the word and the destination node. Similarly, if the anchor is on the last three letters of "father" then the accent on the last syllable causes readers to think phonemically and connect that syllable to the destination node. At the same time, however, accentuating only part of the word can lead to readers re-seeing the original word as well (as the above anchor can lead to readers seeing the word "father " as "fat her"). On the other hand, the textual and phonemic interpretative potential seems to dissipate at the macro level of paragraphs such as Charmin' Cleary [16].

Numbers and Symbols

Efferent sites use numbers as denotative links (e.g., Report 1). Aesthetic sites merge text and numbers for new semiotic connections. For example, ][mez] [breeze] and Memmott mix numbers, symbols, and code to form new language associations. Other authors use the numbers and symbols to evoke binary computer associations.








Type summary table
Property   Bottom line Efferent.: Get information Aesthetic: Explore, uncover meanings

Graphic portions:

One or more parts of a graphic are anchoral, where the rest of the graphic is nonanchoral. Where the entire graphic is an anchor, portions of the anchor lead to different nodes.

Graphics are interpreted in relation to the emphasized ancoral portion. Fuddruckers [19]
Garnier Fructis [20] (yellow dots over part of graphic)
Kidbuilding [31] (map)
Saturn [60](blue anchors over part of graphic)
25 Ways to Close a Photograph [41](map)
Ferris Wheels [33](map)
Samplers [37](map)
Sand Loves [38] (map)
Victory Garden [48](map)
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyria


The entire graphic functions as a single anchor.

Graphic anchors both emphasize and undercut textual elements. Bankrate [3]
BBC [4]
brandchannel [5]
Doonesbury [64]
pop up ads (new screen and embedded)
IDEO [24]
 storytelling banner ads
Questacon [55]
Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children [58](repeating text anchors)
25 Ways to Close a Photograph [41]
_][ad][Dressed in a Skin C.ode [44]
Lexia to Perplexia [43]
Marble Springs [36]
Notes Toward Absolute Zero [42]
Reagan Library [47]
The Rainbow Factory [22]
War Games--Catch The LandMine!! [40]
~water ~water ~water [59]
What We Will [66]

Anchors that contain textual or linguistic elements.


Anchor texts can incorporate graphic elements ranging from color to mouseover highlights and animation.   _][ad][Dressed in a Skin C.ode [44] 
Firefly [34]
High Crimson [11]

I'm Simply Saying [35]
Penetration [30]
Sand Loves [38]
The Ballad of Sand and Harry
~water ~water ~water [59]
Textual elements convey precise wording which allows for connotative and denotative references: embedded text anchors can create a thematic and connective implications and overlay readings that may differ from the nonanchored text. Adaptive Path [1]
A List Apart [2]
Bankrate [3]
BBC [4]
brandchannel [5]
Cooperstown [6] (menu tabs)
Earthtrends [12]
FirstGov [18]
Garnier Fructis [20]
Hummer [23] (menus)
Idea Line [67]
IDEO [24]
Kidbuilding [31]
Nevada Division of Environmental Protection [50]
PeopleSoft [53]
Poems That Go Archives [54] (repeating graphic icons)
Questacon [55]
Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children [58](repeating graphic anchors)
Saturn [60]
Wikipedia [68]
Afterimage [7]
Charmin' Cleary [16]
Diagrams Series 5 [57]
Ferris Wheels [33]
Joe's Heartbeat in Budapest [49]
Marble Springs [36]

Patchwork Girl [26]
Reach [28]
Reagan Library [47]
Same Day Test [25]

Samplers [37]
Sand Loves [38]
Six Sex Scenes [14]
The Jew's Daughter [45]
True North [62]
Unknown [56]
Victory Garden [48]


Anchors that use symbols that consistently stand for a particular destination or meaning.

Icons provide a familiar shorthand that takes up less room and conveys more information than textual equivalents.

Bankrate [3]
BBC [4]
brandchannel [5]
Cooperstown [6] (scroll bar)
IDEO [24] Nevada Division of Environmental Protection [50]
Poems That Go Archives [54] (graphic icons)
Questacon [55]
Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children [58]

_][ad][Dressed in a Skin C.ode [44]
Him [9]
In the Changing Room [8]
Lexia to Perplexia [43]
Marble Springs [36]

Numbers & Symbols:

Anchors that use arabic or roman numerals or common typographical symbols.


Numbers and symbols can be used to signify binary notions or set off inserts and portions of code/language.   _][ad][Dressed in a Skin C.ode [44] 
High Crimson [11]

Lexia to Perplexia [43]
Pax [46]
The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot [61]