The effects of headings in information mapping on search speed and evaluation of a brief health education text

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Abstract

The accessibility of written information becomes an increasingly relevant issue in today's information-dense society. Although headings are generally known to signal textual content and thus aid access, it remains unclear how frequently headings should be used for optimal document use. Information Mapping(C) is a text writing method that systematically splits up text in chunks accompanied by headings. The present paper presents a study in which a print health education document was varied systematically in accordance with the Information Mapping method, to examine the effects of heading frequency and information order on participants' search speed and their evaluation of the text layout. Results showed that the presence of headings in a text indeed contributed to easier access in the search tasks. Although no differences in search speed were found with varying numbers of headings in the text, some subjective opinions were in favour of the version with most headings. The different information order of the Information Mapping text had no effect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)833-844
JournalJournal of Information Science
Volume34
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

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