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Is the New Paragraph More Readable than the Traditional Paragraph? Open Access


Other title
numerically objectify
Gutenberg Diagram
wicked problems
availability sampling
Cloze Procedure
Traditional Paragraph
Flesch Reading
Readability Test
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Singh, Ravi Inder
Supervisor and department
Miller, James (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Salmon, John (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Julien, Heidi (School of Library and Information Studies)
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
The definition of the traditional paragraph has remained unchanged for generations of readers. Yet today the predominant form of the paragraph on the Web is so new that it can only be called the new paragraph. So the question is which is the more readable of the two paragraph formats? More specifically, how can the new paragraph be defined and how can its readability be measured against the traditional paragraph? A literature review reveals that no attempt has ever been made to define the new paragraph. A novel approach is taken: collect the headline stories from the top 43 English language online daily newspapers and use them to define the new paragraph. They exclusively use the new paragraph format and 1200 stories were collected from them over a period of four months. The results indicate a drastic difference between the old and new paragraph with the new paragraph being on average less than half the size of the old paragraph. White space between paragraphs occupies almost exactly half a given story. Words of less than two syllables are the norm in a new paragraph. To determine the readability of the new paragraph, a test of readability was performed using human subjects. A passage of text was selected and formatted according to the rules for the traditional paragraph and according to the metrics of the new paragraph. The cloze procedure is then used to decide readability. The reading test‟s data is analyzed and the results and future directions of the study are discussed in the conclusion.
License granted by Ravi Singh ( on 2011-01-07T19:52:26Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File author: Ravi Singh
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