In reworking the text for this article on moose, I was reflecting on Maryanne Wolf’s definition of deep reading, which says that “deep reading processes underlie our abilities to find, reflect, and potentially expand upon what matters when we read,”( Cohn, 2021, p. 112). When a text like this one on Moose is presented to a young reader through an online medium, if one would like to encourage deeper reading of the text, it make sense that we would look at ways to improve how we present that material in order to facilitate the ease of comprehension for our readers.
In formatting this article I looked at a number of different things, including:
Font type and size
I wanted the font to be as legible as possible, and so chose a sans serif font as several sources suggested that this would be the easiest to read on a screen. I was interested to read that “research by Sheedy et al in 2005 indicated that, when displayed on a screen, Verdana was the most legible font while Times New Roman was the least legible,” (source) and so decided to use Verdana for my typeface.
I was mindful of using consistent size for my text and tried to alert the reader to new topics and subtopics by using bolded text that was larger in size than the body text. As per the suggestions in the readings about effective font size I used 18 point font for headers, 14 for subheads, and 12 for body text.
I originally had text with a line length that filled almost an entire word processing document page, but took to hear the exhortation that “in almost no circumstance is text that wraps across an entire desktop monitor desirable,” (source) and instead went for a line length that gave a considerable margin on the right side of the document.
Paragraphing and Headers
In order to improve readability I made sure to think about white space in between paragraphs and sections to make it easier for the reader to know when the text was switching between topics. Given that Morkes and Nielsen’s 1997 study showed that “writings for the Web scored 47% higher in usability when written to be more scannable,” I chose to break up the text into smaller, more easily readable paragraphs, with headers and subheaders to make the flow of content more clear.
Ways to improve:
Looking back on this project, I would have liked to do several other things in order to improve accessibility for this text. These include the following:
Moving forward I would have liked to use tip-tool-text to provide short definitions for more challenging vocabulary. I would like to have added text that would appear as the reader hovers the mouse over a challenging word or phrase, but was not able to do so using Google Docs (though I spent a while perusing several tutorials… in vain it seems!). I think that moving forward, I would avoid using a word processor for a project like this in order to be able to have some more control in this regard.
While I was able to use “call out text” to help break up large blocks of text and highlight key information, I would have liked to encourage integration of the new textual information through the use of graphics. There were several places where I felt a map, anatomical image or other graphic may have been really helpful both in breaking up the text and in supporting student understanding.