The concept of “chunking’ was coined by George A. Miller back in 1956 (Pramling, 2011). Chunking, simply, refers to the act of breaking up big pieces of information into smaller sections. This is done because bigger groups of information are harder to remember in one sitting. By breaking a huge piece of information into smaller pieces means we understand what we’re learning quicker and retain more information overall.
While this is mostly talked about within text, visual information such graphics, pictures, videos, images and many other elements can also be used within this process. Chunking multimedia content like this can be done although it can sometimes be difficult. The key is to try and keep things that are related to one another as closely together and aligned as possible (Horton, 1994). Making use of white space, horizontal and vertical rules and careful background colors can also really help viewers properly distinguish between what items are related to each other and which ones are separate. The most important thing to remember when organizing your information and media this way is to remember to divide your information into clear and distinct groups and related topics (Horton, 1994).
George A. Miller also made famous the concept of the “magical number seven” (Pramling, 2011). He found that people seemed to remember chunks of information when they came in seven’s. For this reason a lot of designers tend to group images or texts in groups of seven as to help the reader retain as much material as possible.
Pramling, N. (2011). Possibilities as limitations: A study of the scientific uptake and moulding of g.A. miller’s metaphor of chunk. Theory & Psychology, 21(3), 277-297.
Horton, W. (1994). Designing and writing online documentation : Hypermedia for self-supporting products(2nd ed. ed., Wiley technical communication library). New York: Wiley.