About the Journal

The journal of visual communication research.
Visible Language supports the community of communication design scholars, researchers, and practitioners through the publication of rigorous, relevant communication design research.

Visible Language is published three times a year: April, August, and December. PDFs of all back-issues from 1967 to present are available on the Visible Language website. The print journal is available in university libraries worldwide. Subscriptions and back issues are available through the Visible Language Subscription management at pubsvc.tsp@sheridan.com Individual articles can also be obtained electronically through the Wilson (Art) Index, ProQuest and EBSCO. Permission to use Visible Language articles in course packets can be obtained through CCC, Copyright Clearance Center.
Publication History
Visible Language is the oldest peer–reviewed design journal, first published in 1967. For its first four years, it was published under the title The Journal of Typographic Research. Our founding editor, Dr. Merald Wrolstad, understood that research and scholarly information were essential to the development of communication design and in particular to the development of typography in its support of reading and writing. Understanding these broader implications, he changed the title to Visible Language.

In 1987, the journal passed to its second editor Sharon Poggenpohl, who strengthened the investigation of design research, interdisciplinary thinking, and the evolution of digital communication along with its cultural impact.

In 2013, Mike Zender at the University of Cincinnati School of Design became editor and further refined the journal’s focus on communication design research.

Over its lifetime, the journal has published over 1,000 articles. From our initial focus on typography, we have evolved with the changing landscape of communication design to embrace interdisciplinary relationships with anthropology, art, design, education, English and linguistics. General issues by their very nature are interdisciplinary.

The breakdown of general to special issues over the past 20 years is 48% general and 52% special. Of the special issues published within the past 20 years, 41% are interdisciplinary, while 70% of the special issues contain some aspect of design in its many dimensions.


Visible Language was founded in 1967 by Dr. Merald Wrolstad, faithfully shepherded by Editor and Publisher Sharon Poggenphol with the gracious support of the Rhode Island School of Design’s Graphic Design Department until 2012, and is now supported by the editorial team at the Myron E. Ullman Jr. School of Design at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning assisted by the publication staff at UCPress. The Advisory Board has given advice and connection to scholars worldwide; their assistance ensures this journal is meaningful and effective. However, it is our community of reviewers and authors who share their expertise, research, ideas, and concerns, who are the essential foundation of Visible Language.