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3 ways to illustrate your point in a textbook

Chemistry CartoonAccording to a 2006 cover story in the APA magazine, Monitor on Psychology, titled “How laughing leads to learning”, well-placed comedy in the learning environment has been shown to reduce tension, boost participation, increase motivation, and help students retain information.

In this article, cartoonist Dan Rosandich shares three ways for effectively incorporating cartoons and illustrations into your next textbook.

Method 1: Beginning of each chapter

According to Rosandich, a cartoon used at the beginning of each chapter in a book is a great way to guide readers through a book from beginning to end. Either in color or as a black & white line art, cartoons and humorous illustrations will help get your message across to the readers of your book.

A well-placed custom cartoon can be aesthetically pleasing to the eye and mentally prime students for learning in the pages ahead. And as Walt Disney once said, “Laughter is no enemy to learning.”

Method 2: Embedded within the content

The second place a cartoon can be used to illustrate your point is within the chapter content. Ideally placed within the paragraph where a point is being made, a cartoon pertaining to the same topic can both emphasize the topic matter and leave a lasting impression.

According to playwright and actor, Christopher Durang, “Laughter can bring a new perspective.” The perspective that an appropriately placed cartoon provides acts to emphasize your point or topic matter and maybe generate a laugh. Although Rosandich states that “a cartoon doesn’t necessarily have to be falling down and knee slapping funny” to be impactful, referencing The New Yorker cartoons as proof of concept.

Method 3: Cover illustrations

Cartoonists are illustrators and a third place where they can help improve your book is in cover design. An effective cover illustration shows potential buyers and readers what the book is about.

Many times, it’s the cover image that helps sell a book. Custom cover art can have a more direct impact than stock images or clip art adorning the cover. It exhibits quality and concern over every detail of the production process rather than a hurry to simply get the book to market.

As you work on your next manuscript, consider the impact that professionally created illustrations and cartoons may have on the learning experience for those who adopt it. As Jean Houston, author and researcher of human capacities, puts it, “At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”

Cartoonist Dan RosandichCartoonist Dan Rosandich has been creating cartoons and illustrations since the 1970s for trade magazines like American Medical News, Personal Computing, Science Digest, popular magazines such as Reader’s Digest, Saturday Evening Post and Woman’s World magazine, and textbooks published by Pearson Education, Cengage Learning and John Wiley & Sons.

For more information on his services or to view samples of his work, visit