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Is the New Paragraph More Readable than the Traditional Paragraph?

  • Author / Creator
    Singh, Ravi Inder
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2011-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3JQ5Z
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Miller, James (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Julien, Heidi (School of Library and Information Studies)
    • Salmon, John (Electrical and Computer Engineering)