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Framing 101

Discover how the science of framing can help us to be heard and understood. When we change the story and how we tell it, we can change the world.

Framing is the choices we make in what we say and how we say it:

  • What we emphasize
  • How and what we explain
  • What we leave unsaid

These choices matter. They affect how people hear us, what they understand, and how they act.

The science of framing helps us to be heard and understood. When we change the story and how we tell it, we can change the world.

For a quick glimpse at some of the basics of framing, check out Fast Frames — a six-part mini-series featuring quick advice that you can use to make your communications more effective.

Each of the videos in this series shares a specific framing tip to help you advance your social change work, including lessons on:

  • Leading with solutions
  • Talking about data
  • Alternatives to “vulnerability” framing
  • Using visuals to spark big-picture thinking
  • Telling more effective stories about the success of your social change work

Explore the resources below to take a deeper dive into the fundamentals of framing.

Showing 13 – 20 of 20


Framing During an Economic Downturn

An economic recession is a moment when change is inevitable – for better or for worse. We can use our communications power to shape this change. On the road to economic recovery, we can...

Frame Testing Recommendations

The Case for Explanatory Stories

In this feature article in Change Agent, FrameWorks founder Susan Nall Bales explains how explanatory stories "bend the narrative arc toward social justice."


Science Does Not Speak for Itself: Translating Child Development Research for the Public and Its Policymakers

How can we translate the science of early brain and biological development? Partnerships between scientists and social scientists can help.


The Storytelling Power of Numbers

"Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour, Rains from the sky a meteoric shower Of facts...they lie unquestioned, uncombined. Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill Is daily spun; but...

Frame Testing Recommendations

Viewpoint: Q&A with FrameWorks CEO Nathaniel Kendall-Taylor, PhD

What challenges do advocates face when communicating about substance abuse prevention, and how can they overcome these challenges?

External article

Disrupting the Dominant Frame: An Interview with Susan Nall Bales of the FrameWorks Institute, 2015 MACEI Award Winner

FrameWorks was founded 16 years ago by Susan Nall Bales.The core of its work is on how advocacy communications can be improved through the use of Strategic Frame Analysis. Bales is a veteran...

External article

The Case Against Rainy-Day Framing of Budgets and Taxes

FrameWorks founder Susan Nall Bales explains why public revenue and spending is every advocate’s “second issue.”


An Open Letter to the Foundation Community About the Importance of Strategic Communications for the Resolution of Social Problems

This open letter - an outcome from the "Media Matters: The Institute on News and Social Problems" conference held in 1995 - led to the founding of FrameWorks.