Use Callouts to Facilitate Clear Communication in Print and on the Web

Call Out
In this aerial view, the call outs (text and arrows) help identify elements in the photo. | Design & Layout | Type & Fonts | Alpha Index of Full Glossary:. # | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | XYZ

In the world of print and web publishing, a callout most often takes the form of a text or graphic label that directs attention to an element in an illustration, often in the form of an arrow or a circle superimposed on the graphic, and often in a contrasting color to cause it to jump out at the reader or viewer. An arrow or circle may be accompanied by text, or the meaning may be obvious from the context in which the callout is found.

Circles and Arrows and Bubbles! Oh My!

Graphic designers and page layout artist use callouts to emphasize the importance of some facet of the article or web page. The intent of callouts is to direct the reader's or viewer's attention to a specific area of an image or article to facilitate clear communication.

For example, a tutorial for a software program might use screenshots of the software with each step of the teaching process. A designer who adds red circles around the portion of each screenshot that illustrates the accompanying text is adding callouts to direct the reader or viewer's attention to the specific topic at hand and to make it easier for the reader to visualize the process covered in the tutorial. 

Callouts can take many forms other than circles. Sometimes a callout takes the form of a bordered factoid inset in a printed article. Sometimes the callout is in the form of a speech bubble with an instruction.

Arrows are common callouts.

Pull Quotes

A pull quote is an excerpt of the text of an article that has been pulled out and used as a graphic element. The excerpt appears in a larger, different font to draw the eye directly to the pull quote. The intent is to attract the reader to a particularly interesting snippet from the article that tantalizes the viewing audience.

All pull quotes are callouts, but not all callouts are pull quotes.