Science Speaks: Improving Readability of Texts

By N. Jean Hodges.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Having evolved from the person amused by those who must hold a book at arm’s length while reading into the person actually holding the book at arm’s length, the author seeks answers to two questions: How can reading be made easier? How can the writer communicate optimally with diverse, unseen audiences? For both questions, improving readability seems to be an obvious, but overly simplistic, answer. After explaining nuances underlying the meaning of readability, the author consults modern research in such fields as cognitive and educational psychology, communication, and graphic design in search of ways to address these nuances. Experimental results in these fields identify human needs and suggest strategies that writers can use to aid both physical and cognitive aspects of reading for texts presented through more traditional media as well as electronic texts. Principles derived from modern research will be presented for user-friendly composing, organizing of texts, and illustrating methods, among others.

Keywords: Readability, Composition, Electronic Texts

International Journal of the Book, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.55-70. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 781.446KB).

N. Jean Hodges

Writing Center Instructor, Liberal Arts and Science, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, Doha, Qatar

Jean Hodges earned her MS in Technical Communication at North Carolina State University and has taught writing and business courses at several colleges. Since 2004 she has been an Assistant Professor and Writing Center Instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s branch campus in Doha, Qatar. Beginning in 1982, World of Poetry Press published several of her poems. Her collection of poems based on a selection of her unique experiences in Qatar, a booklet entitled “Grains of Sand Upon the Desert Floor” designed and illustrated by Aida Hashim, appeared in the VCUQatar Seventh Annual Faculty Exhibition held in 2005. Hodges has published several articles as well as presented professional workshops and papers internationally. Since 2005 she has collaborated with Dr. John Schmeelk in ongoing educational research on Contemporary Mathematics courses at VCUQatar. They have published and co-presented at meetings of the Middle East Teachers of Science, Mathematics and Computing (METSMaC) in Abu Dhabi and at annual conferences of the American Society for Engineering Educators (ASEE), Math Division. Hodges’ interests include reading, traveling, and rose gardening.

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