The paper establishes a taxonomy of image‐text relationships that reflects the ways that images and text interact. It is applicable to all subject areas and document types. The taxonomy was developed to answer the research question: how does an illustration relate to the text with which it is associated, or, what are the functions of illustration? Developed in a two‐stage process – first, analysis of relevant research in children's literature, dictionary development, education, journalism, and library and information design and, second, subsequent application of the first version of the taxonomy to 954 image‐text pairs in 45 Web pages (pages with educational content for children, online newspapers, and retail business pages) – the taxonomy identifies 49 relationships and groups them in three categories according to the closeness of the conceptual relationship between image and text. The paper uses qualitative content analysis to illustrate use of the taxonomy to analyze four image‐text pairs in government publications and discusses the implications of the research for information retrieval and document design.
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