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Let Me Check My Schedule…

By Emma Baumann


You’re late. You rush through the hallway, wondering if your professor is in his office.  You need his help with an assignment, but the only time you can stop by is now or early Thursday morning. You see his door closed, but there’s a big white chart posted outside his office. It’s his office hours schedule – a matrix with days of the week running horizontally across the top and hours of the day running vertically along the side. You run your finger down from Thursday until you reach 9 a.m., and the chart shows that your professor will be available. “Perfect!” you think, as you rush off to class.


I’m sure many college students can relate to this scenario. When you’re short on time and you need information, an easy-to-navigate schedule is ideal. What do students use to keep track of their classes? They use a grid showing which class is where, and when. This type of schedule can be pulled out of a backpack for a glance to make sure one is going to the right classroom – which is especially handy on the first day of class! Matrix charts are also used quite frequently by many students to clearly display the chores that are divided up between their roommates. These charts show who does what and when.


Marissa Biebert, a junior at MSU (Minnesota State University), juggles school, three jobs, and an internship program. She uses schedules quite frequently to keep her activities straight.

“I mark up my calendar at the beginning of the semester with test dates and paper due dates.  That way, I can start working on them ahead of time and visually plan out when I will be able to work on each paper or study for each test.”

She also uses a weekly chart schedule that displays her class and work times. This keeps her on track and more importantly, on time.  For her job as a softball coach at the YMCA, Marissa keeps a three-column grid of game schedules. The left column displays dates/times, the middle column displays the opposing teams, and the right column displays locations. “This type of schedule makes it easy to see where each game is at and when I need to be there,” she explains.


…when you’re creating a schedule, to lay out chores for your household for example, you have to consider the audience and the context…


So what makes these schedules so effective? 



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According to Designing Visual Language by Charles Kostelnick and David Roberts, “a matrix organizes text both vertically and horizontally at the same time” (1998, 228). 


This creates clarity and conciseness in a schedule and makes it visually appealing. Specific parts of a schedule also need to be emphasized for more clarity, whether that means enlarging the headings, color-coding different sections on a grid, or using different fonts for different items in the schedule.  “Emphasis choices almost always have rhetorical consequences, which you have to anticipate during the design process,” say Kostelnick and Roberts (1998, 239). This means that when you’re creating a schedule, to lay out chores for your household for example, you have to consider the audience (your roommates) and the context (they will most likely be viewing the chart in passing).  These variables affect the design decisions you make when creating your schedule, and, if implemented correctly, the decisions can make your schedule a success.


Schedules are everywhere.  Whether we see them at work, on campus, at home, or in extracurricular activities, everyone is affected by schedules.  Some might even say that they’d be lost without the use of schedules to visually keep track of their day.  No matter who you are or what you do, schedules are an important part of keeping life organized.


Works Cited


Biebert, Marissa. Interview by Emma Baumann. Minnesota State University, Mankato. February 28, 2006.


Kostelnick, Charles and David D. Roberts. Designing Visual Language. Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon, 1998.