When the written instructions get tough, look for an illustration — a picture — to figure out what to do. Assembling furniture? Numbered diagrams and other illustrations can help you avoid the dreaded pile of "leftover" pieces.

An illustration can also be a helpful example that isn't visual at all. A coworker who comes to work with a terrible cold and gives it to the whole office is an illustration of what happens when a boss discourages the use of sick days. You hope that the boss isn't an illustration of management at that company! If so, maybe these workers do need a visual: an illustration that shows hand-washing techniques and other ways to avoid germs.

Definitions of illustration

n a visual representation (a picture or diagram) that is used make some subject more pleasing or easier to understand

a full-page illustration (usually on slick paper)
fashion plate
a plate illustrating the latest fashion in dress
Type of:
a creation that is a visual or tangible rendering of someone or something

n artwork that helps make something clear or attractive

pictorial matter, picture
illustrations used to decorate or explain a text
fig, figure
a diagram or picture illustrating textual material
Type of:
art, artwork, graphics, nontextual matter
photographs or other visual representations in a printed publication

n showing by example

Type of:
demo, demonstration
a visual presentation showing how something works

n an item of information that is typical of a class or group

example, instance, representative
show 11 types...
hide 11 types...
apology, excuse
a poor example
an instance that does not conform to a rule or generalization
case in point, precedent
an example that is used to justify similar occurrences at a later time
the most typical example or representative of a type
a small part of something intended as representative of the whole
an example regarded as typical of its class
a test sample of some substance
cross section
a sample meant to be representative of a whole population
grab sample
a single sample or measurement taken at a specific time or over as short a period as feasible
random sample
a sample grabbed at random
a small amount (especially of food or wine)
Type of:
knowledge acquired through study or experience or instruction

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