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Enhancing Readability. Using the COLA strategy Dr. kathy rotter Assistant Professor, The college of New jersey rotter@tcnj.edu. What types of things do you make that kids read?. Writing on Board Handouts Tests Study guides Lab guides Bulletin Boards. Where did it come from?. COLA.

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enhancing readability

Enhancing Readability

Using the COLA strategy

Dr. kathyrotter

Assistant Professor, The college of New jersey


what types of things do you make that kids read

What types of things do you make that kids read?

Writing on Board



Study guides

Lab guides

Bulletin Boards







What color do you prefer?

Can you read this well?

How about this?

Or this?

Or this?


Without contrast the lines are pushed together in a manner that makes it very hard to read the material put on the page. Without space, there is very little contrast. Space around the words makes them easier to read.

With space, it is easier to read the information you need!


Even the space between letters can effect the speed of your reading.

A condensed font is harder to read.

A spread out font can slow you down as well.


When underlining you must be careful as the shape of the words can be shaped by the line. You must also be careful of use of bold in that it draws so much attention to itself!


Without clear borders it is very hard to read info. Borders help contain the eye and make reading easier. Borders also help students with reading difficulties locate the info they need to finish their work.


Black on white is best contrast

Plenty of white space

Color is in clear contrast – yellow is the enemy!

Underlining issues

Bold issues

Clear crisp borders

read this please
Read this please!


bother apple

somebody running


All info moves top to bottom, left to right

Important info is at top left position

Materials aligned left

Clear visual path


A font can be very interesting to see but not as much fun to read.

Cursive writing is especially hard for students to read. By age twelve, most people have evolved into their own unique handwriting which is a combination of cursive and print, making their handwriting even hard to read than this.

a, a, a, a, a

p, b, d, q

elephant vs. ELEPHANT


I really hate it when a teacher uses an overhead that is too small to read from the back of the class.

If you copy a page onto an overhead, it will be too small to read.

Italics impact reading speed.

You read faster without them!

Changing fonts midway slows reading.


Printed, never cursive

Font choice

One font

Big enough to read at viewing distance

Use upper and lower case, not all caps

Avoid italics


Used to support info

Not just to be pretty!

Not too busy or distracting

Pictures easy to recognize


Why crowd everything into one corner and leave the rest of the page blank?

If I care about having my pupils read what I write, I need to make the right things bigger!

use of space
Use of Space

Info makes good use of space available

No crowding of info

Key points are biggest

general good ideas
General good ideas!

Print at all times!

Put boxes around key info you want students to find.

Watch matching questions as they require diagonal tracking skills.

Visuals have real power, use them wisely!

cutting the reading demand
Cutting the reading demand
  • Simplify directions
    • Not: Please read the following questions and consider the best possible answer. Mark the correct answer with an “X”.
    • Yes: Mark the answer with an “X”.
  • Allow bulleted answers when possible
  • Highlight key info for those who can’t.

Don’t give compound directions. Use bullets.

    • Not: Underline the two main ideas in the story then put a check over the one you think is most important.
    • Yes:
      • Underling the two main ideas.
      • Put a check over the one you think is most important.
oh and just one more thing
Oh and just one more thing!

Having pupils copy info from board or overhead.

Many of them can’t.

Do you want to measure knowledge of the subject, or ability to copy?