The Use of Visual Cues in Text
Waller (personal communication) noted: “It seems promising…to explore ways of making the content and structure of textbooks accessible to the selective reader. It is proposed… that one way of achieving this effect could be through the use of typographically signalled structural cues….” The present paper is concerned with incorporating structural cues within the text itself by using typography to distinguish levels of content. The hypothesis is that this can facilitate effective reading of prose. It rests on the assumption that reading involves not only the comprehension of words but also an awareness of the underlying structure of prose, which can be signalled by typographic cues.
“Visual cues” are variations in the appearance of a graphic display which are intended to assist the reader in using the display more efficiently. Visual cues are frequently employed where the reader has to detect or discriminate target items, such as in maps or bibliographies, but are less frequently used in material read for comprehension.
The experimental literature on cuing, particularly in continuous prose, is surveyed. Two experiments are reported. One involved obtaining judgements of the key sentences in a 3,400-word text, and demonstrated the inconsistency of the judges; the second examined the effects of typographic cuing using a delayed free-recall test. The results indicated that cuing key material led readers to recall more of that key material.
KeywordsSupplementary Benefit Language Comprehension Core Content Topic Sentence Effective Reading
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