Typographical cues that facilitate comprehension: Correction

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Abstract

Reports an error in the original article by Lawrence T. Frase and Barry J. Schwartz (Journal of Educational Psychology, 1979[Apr], Vol 71[2], pp. 197-206). On page 203, a sentence transposed two letters in an abbreviation. The corrected sentence is published here. (The following abstract of this article originally appeared in record 1979-27787-001.) Written sentences often contain several meaningful components (e.g., causes and effects or events in a sequence). Preliminary studies of technical documents showed that typographically segmenting these components improved raters' judgments of the comprehensibility of the information. In the present paper, this segmentation notion is generalized, suggesting that phrase segmentation and indentation can be used to facilitate comprehension. Five experiments were conducted (with a total of 72 college students or technical aides) in which Ss verified sentences by reading complex information in several technical passages. Meaningfully segmented and indented text resulted in 14-28% faster response times than standard text. Both segmenting and indenting significantly influenced performance; however, once a text had been meaningfully segmented, the addition of indentation cues did not significantly affect response time. These data shed light on persisting issues in typographic design, namely, whether there is an optimal length for lines and whether justified margins are desirable. Such factors appear to be of minor cognitive relevance. The critical variable is whether the format results in a display of easily encoded units, regardless of length or neatness of margins. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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