Some Facts About Reading. Americans’ average reading level: 8th-9th grade. 1 in 5 people read at 5th grade or below. Almost 2 in 5 older (65+) Americans and inner city minorities read at 5th grade level or below. Roughly 1/2 of students learn to read with relative ease.
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If you don’t write for the reader,
the reader won’t read.
Text and graphics must work together so that the reader’s task is simplified.
Overwhelmingly, people go to the Web
“to find useful information
as quickly as possible.”
Progression is word by word across the page and down.
Meaning is gathered from the syntax (the way words are put together to form phrases or clauses) and the ongoing process of reading each word.
Key information is not visually called out.
Progression is rapid and not in order around the page as user looks for specific facts or key words and phrases.
Meaning clusters around key words and phrases as the user finds them. There may not be an ongoing process of good meaning-making.
Key information is visually called out.
Oversized headings alert the reader to the topic of each paragraph.
Colored headings and bullets distract the eye from its left-to-right, top-to-bottom progress and visually organize the material.
Numbers: imply hierarchy.
Bullets: No order of
The newspaper page structure is an excellent aid to scanning.
Tables of Contents
Edit the sample of “readable” text to make it more scannable.
Failure of Leadership
Certain principles and freedoms are guaranteed by our Constitution. Yet, without enforcement, the Constitution is just a piece of paper. Where does one turn if national leaders fail to uphold these fundamental rights?
President Roosevelt ignored reports from Naval Intelligence, the FBI and other official sources that there was no need for either mass removal or incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry. According to then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, " ... the decision to evacuate was ... based primarily on public and political pressures rather than factual data." Perhaps Roosevelt was influenced by anti-Japanese sentiments or misled by key advisors. Perhaps it was because there was no strong opposition to the incarceration on the West Coast. In any case, President Roosevelt encountered little resistance when he chose to violate the civil rights of a small, easily identifiable and politically powerless minority group rather than go against the rising tide of hostility. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Roosevelt's decision. In sharp contrast to the mainland, the military leadership in Hawaii discouraged public hysteria and there was no mass incarceration on the islands.
1943 U.S. War Relocation Authority newsreel titled: "Japanese Relocation."
Rewrite the copy to make it more concise.
If text seems too over-the-top, readers will begin to call its validity into question. This creates a distraction that increases their cognitive load.
Rewrite the copy to make it more objective.
Rewrite the copy to make it more conversational.
Copy can aid navigation.