Reading between the words: Improving the readability and memorability of text

872 views
801 views

Published on

Describes the process of text formatting, or how minor (and virtually invisible) changes to your text will help customers read faster, understand better and remember more.

Published in: Design, Education, Technology
0 Comments
2 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
872
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
47
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
19
Comments
0
Likes
2
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Reading between the words: Improving the readability and memorability of text

  1. 1. 1 Reading between the words Improving the readability and memorability of text Kath Straub
  2. 2. 2 The printing press solved a problem for people: It provided an inexpensive means to copy books and documents, making mass distribution possible. However, also it introduced a challenge for the brains of the people who got the books.
  3. 3. 3 Outline • How reading works • How phrase-formatting helps • When it helps • Why it matters • Phrase-formmating in Action
  4. 4. 4 Hold two fingers out in front of you, at arm’s length. Without moving your eyes, the “window” of what you can see is about the width of two fingers. Even though it feels like it, we don’t take in the whole world at once. Our eyes focus on a series of snapshots and our brains piece them together to give us the perception of a smooth, constant experience. Brains are pretty cool that way.
  5. 5. 5 Reading is a series of eye movements called saccades. Between the saccades, people fixate, or stop and look at what they are reading.
  6. 6. 6 • Fixations last ~200-250 miliseconds • The average English word has 5.5 letters • During a fixation, people see roughly 7-15 characters or ~ 2.5 words
  7. 7. 7 When you read, your eyes move short distance across text (or “saccade”), and stop (or “fixate”) along the way to take things in. The next few slide – flip through them quickly–will give you a sense of what your brain “sees” what you read. Your experience of reading is probably pretty different.
  8. 8. 8
  9. 9. 9
  10. 10. 10
  11. 11. 11
  12. 12. 12
  13. 13. 13
  14. 14. 14
  15. 15. 15
  16. 16. 16
  17. 17. 17
  18. 18. 18
  19. 19. 19
  20. 20. 20
  21. 21. 21 As you get more practice reading, you get better at planning your fixations. That is, you learn to land where you can “see” more meaningful information. For example, better readers tend to land on nouns and adjective more frequently than prepositions or determiners. Better planning allows them to make less stops and still understand.
  22. 22. 22 Another detail: ~ 1 in 6 characters is a space. Because they are mostly uniform, in type single spaces tell us where words and sentences end. Double spaces indicate a sentence end, but periods tell us that, too. Other than that, spaces are not really helpful.
  23. 23. 23 Outline • A little bit about eye movements in reading • How phrase-formatting helps • When it helps • Why it matters
  24. 24. 24 When text is ragged-right spaces between words are all the same size. Spaces are not helpful. But they are probably not harmful, either because they are constant.
  25. 25. 25 When text is right-justified spaces between words are the same size within a line. However they are different from line to line. This may make reading harder because your brain is trying to interpret cues (space sizes) that are random and un-meaningful.
  26. 26. 26 Spaces in print don’t help you read.
  27. 27. 27 You probably didn’t this, but in handwriting spaces do help….
  28. 28. 28 Gettysburg Address
  29. 29. 29 Word processors make spaces the same size within a line. But writers (at least Lincoln/Hayes) modify the size of spaces between words to create phrase “packets.” They probably do this without even thinking. for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to the that cause for which they here gave gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom: and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth
  30. 30. 30 Numbers = units of space between the handwritten words
  31. 31. 31 If it were typeset using those space sizes it would look like this:
  32. 32. 32 Line breaks can also be helpful.
  33. 33. 33 Word processors break lines based on character count. Writers (at least Lincoln/Hayes) tend to break lines after a phrase is complete. for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to the that cause for which they here gave gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom: and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth 8 lines start A new phrase 4 lines break up a phrase 7 lines start a new phrase 7 lines break up a phrase
  34. 34. 34 Outline • A little bit about eye movements in reading • How phrase-formatting helps • When it helps • Why it matters
  35. 35. 35 Does reading get easier when we phrase format text, so that spaces are meaningful?
  36. 36. 36 Standard text Formatted text Does it look different?
  37. 37. 37 Overlaid
  38. 38. 38 Outline • How reading works • How phrase-formatting helps • When it helps • Why it matters
  39. 39. 39 40 years of reading studies… Increase in reading speed When text is formatted to reflect psycholinguistic principles, people read faster.
  40. 40. 40 40 years of reading studies… Retention rate improvement When text is formatted to reflect psycholinguistic principles, people remember more.
  41. 41. 41
  42. 42. 42 Community College Computer Literacy Course Percentage of students earning honors grades Positive textbook ratings Standard Textbook 50% Standard Textbook Standard Textbook Phrase- formatted Textbook Phrase- formatted Textbook Phrase-formatted Textbook 78% Percentage of students receiving failing grades
  43. 43. 43 Students learn more and like their books better when the text is phrase-formatted.
  44. 44. 44 Increased in enjoyment when article is phrase-formatted Measure: Post-passage survey
  45. 45. 45 Adults enjoy reading more when the text is phrase-formatted.
  46. 46. 46
  47. 47. 47 Increase in TOEFL Score when test is phrase-formatted Measure: TOEFL score Native Chinese speakers
  48. 48. 48 Increase in Comprehension Basic-level Students Increase in Comprehension Advanced Students Measure: Reading Comprehension on SAT like Essays Native Japanese speakers
  49. 49. 49 Increase in Comprehension*Increase in Reading Speed Measure: Comprehension scores for native Spanish speakers on English SAT test instructed to read for accuracy* not speed Native Spanish speakers
  50. 50. 50 People reading in their second language read faster and remember more when the text is phrase-formatted.
  51. 51. 51 Measure: Reading degraded copy (1st or 6th generation photocopies) Increase in Comprehension 1st generation photocopy 6th generation photocopy
  52. 52. 52 Measure: Reading Comprehension Increase in Comprehension No Distractions Distractions
  53. 53. 53 When reading is hard people remember more when the text is phrase-formatted.
  54. 54. 54 What’s really happening?
  55. 55. 55 Standard Text Phrase-formatted Text # Fixations Fixation length Recursive reading Poor Readers > Superior Readers Poor Readers Superior Readers Poor Readers Superior Readers ≈Poor Readers Superior Readers Poor Readers Superior Readers Poor Readers Superior Readers > ≈ > ≈ Measure: Eyetracking and Reading comprehension When text is phrase-formatted, the eye-movements of poor readers look like the eye-movements of good ones. The sizes of the spaces seems to help them “plan” their eye- movements better.
  56. 56. 56 Does that change anything we care about? Like, … behaviors?
  57. 57. 57 Outline • How reading works • How phrase-formatting helps • When it helps • Why it matters
  58. 58. 58 OK, people read more efficiently. But your customers are probably great readers. Does phrase-formatting change anything you care about? Like, … customer behavior?
  59. 59. 59 [Product] and the free [Branded] support program can help you manage your type 2 diabetes [Product] and the free [branded] support program can help you manage your type 2 diabetes Standard text Phrase-formatted text Dramatic simulation: Try reading each ad aloud with a longish pause at the end of each line. Is one ad easier to read/understand? Clickthrough on web ads
  60. 60. 60 Increase in click-through on phrase-formatted ad vs Standard text formatting In A|B tests people click on web ads more frequently on phrase-formatted copy
  61. 61. 61 Memory for key content Standard Formatting Phrase-formatted Text
  62. 62. 62 # Comprehension questions answered more correctly Phrase-formatted Standard People remember more when copy is phrase-formatted. Measure: A|B testing
  63. 63. 63 Share with friends Standard Formatting Phrase-formatted Text
  64. 64. 64 Increase in likelihood to share when copy is phrase-formatted People say they will forward to a friend more often when text is phrase-formatted. Measure: A|B testing
  65. 65. 65 Phrase- formatted MS Word Format 12.6% increase in response rate when text is phrase-formatted Direct mail When a direct mail request is phrase-formatted more people respond
  66. 66. 66 Phrase-formatted Standard Formatting 7.7% increase in gift size when text is phrase-formatted When a direct mail request is phrase-formatted people write bigger checks. Direct mail
  67. 67. 67 Phrase-formatting changes reading. • People read faster • They remember more • Like what they read better • Respond more frequently
  68. 68. 68 Kath Straub kath@usability.org

×