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Contiguity Principle

contiguity principle





Simply put, the Contiguity Principle 1 is that corresponding graphics and printed words should appear near each other on the screen, (that is, contiguous in space.) There are certain situations when this principle doesn’t necessary apply:

  • In a scrolling window, graphics and corresponding printed text are separated, one before the other, and particularly obscured because of scrolling screens.Feedback is displayed on a separate screen from the practice or question.
  • Links leading to an on screen reference appear in a second browser window that covers the related information on the initial screen (that is, printed text is in one window and graphics are in another.)
  • Directions to complete practice exercises are placed on a separate screen from the application screen in which the directions are to be followed.
  • All text is placed at the bottom of the screen away from graphics.
  • An animation plays on one half of the screen while text describing the animation is displayed simultaneously on the other half the screen.
  • Key elements in a graphic our number, and a legend at the bottom of the screen includes the name for each numbered element.


Contiguity Principle 2 is that corresponding graphics and spoken words (narration) be presented at the same time (that is, contiguous – next to each other – in time.) There are two common violations of the Contiguity Principle 2:

  • A link to audio is indicated by one icon and a link to video is indicated by another icon.
  • A segment provides a narrative description followed by animation or video.

Research evidence suggests a strong link between Cognitive Learning Theory and the Contiguity Principle. Our goal is to limit cognitive overload as extraneous processing, by allowing learners to see the connection between corresponding words in graphics.