Designing Usable Texts

Designing Usable Texts

1st Edition - April 26, 1985

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  • Editors: Thomas M. Duffy, Robert Waller
  • eBook ISBN: 9781483217666

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Designing Usable Texts covers the analysis of textual communication processes in the real world of publishing systems and work sites. The book presents topics on designing and understanding of written texts; authoring, editing, and the production process; and training authors of informative documents. The text also describes the policies and processes of editing; lessons in text design from an instructional design perspective; and graphics and design alternatives such as studying strategies and their implications for textbook design. The identification of information requirements such as understanding readers and their uses of texts, modeling users and their use of technical manuals, is also considered. Psychologists and people involved in communication design, document design, information mapping, and educational technology will find the book invaluable.

Table of Contents

  • Contributors


    Part I Introduction

    1. On the Designing and Understanding of Written Texts


    Constructing and Using Texts

    A Model of Comprehension

    Text Structures and the Contexts of Comprehension

    Explicit Texts and Context-Dependent Texts

    Optimal Design of Texts

    Design versus Theory


    Part II Authoring, Editing, and The Production Process

    2. The Author: Help or Stumbling Block on the Road to Designing Usable Texts


    What Is Usable Text

    Producing Usable Text: Five Propositions

    The Author: Help or Hindrance


    3. Training Authors of Informative Documents


    Who Are the Authors

    What Are the Writing Capabilities of These Authors

    How Does the Job Setting Influence What and How These Authors Write

    What Do We Know About Training Writers

    What Research Is Needed


    4. Editing: Policies and Processes

    Introduction: Why Bother With Editing

    Editorial Policy and Usable Texts

    Editorial Policies as House Rules

    Some Preliminary Studies of Editing Processes

    Concluding Comments on Editing Processes and Policies


    5. Intuitions, Algorithms, and a Science of Text Design

    The Increasing Complexity of Communications

    Need for a Multidisciplinary Approach to Text Design

    Computer-Aided Format Design

    Computer-Aided Language Analysis

    Summary and Implications


    6. Readability Formulas: What's the Use


    Military Texts

    Readability and Prediction

    Readability and Production

    Alternatives to Existing Readability Formulas


    7. Lessons in Text Design from an Instructional Perspective


    Preconditions for the Design of Usable Text

    Contributions of Learning Research to Text Design

    Managing a Text Design Process



    Part III Graphics and Design Alternatives

    8. Studying Strategies and Their Implications for Textbook Design


    Important Dimensions of Studying

    An Analysis of Textbooks




    Audience Appropriateness



    9. Results with Structured Writing Using the Information Mapping Writing® Service Standards

    Table of Contents

    History and Goals

    Basic Types of Maps

    Structured Writing

    Principles of Structured Writing

    Standards: Their Goals and Use

    Research on Components of Structured Writing

    Results of Recent Research



    10. Design Strategies for Job Performance Aids


    Definition and Characteristics

    Job Performance Aid Development

    Design Strategies and Formats

    Research on Job Performance Aids

    Summary and Conclusions


    11. Using Pictorial Language: A Discussion of the Dimensions of the Problem


    What Is a Picture

    What Are Pictures for

    Description and Narration

    Generality versus Particularity

    Observation-Based and Concept-Based Images

    Synoptic Images and Images Composed of Discrete Elements


    Conventions of Drawing



    Berlin's Graphic Variables

    The Dimension of Time

    Repeatability and Transmission

    Cross-Cultural Problems

    Learning to Make and "Read" Pictures

    Feedback and Evaluation

    Credibility of Pictures


    Part IV Identifying Information Requirements

    12. Understanding Readers and Their Uses of Text


    Plan for This Chapter

    The Text Producer as "An Audience of One"

    Understanding the Ability of the Reader to "Receive and Decode the Message"

    Concepts of Adult Marginal Literates as Learners



    13. Modeling Users and Their Use of Technical Manuals


    Research on Comprehensibility and Usability of Military Manuals

    The Content Perspective: Modeling Users' Task Performance

    The Readability Perspective: Modeling Users' Reading Comprehension Skills

    Summary Critique: Content and Readability Perspective

    Research on Use of Information Sources at the Job Site

    Modeling Performance at the Work Site

    Analyses of Observational Data

    Modeling Factors Affecting Performance at the Work Site

    Modeling Information Processing during Task Performance

    Summary: Modeling Performance at the Work Site

    Implications of Research for an Improved Technology


    14. Testing Design Alternatives: A Comparison of Procedures


    The Impact of Research on Document Design

    Procedures for Evaluating Document Design

    A Methodological Comparison of Two Macro-Eye-Movement Procedures



    Author Index

    Subject Index

Product details

  • No. of pages: 440
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 1985
  • Published: April 26, 1985
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9781483217666

About the Editors

Thomas M. Duffy

Robert Waller

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