Communicating headings and preview sentences in text and speech

Robert F. Lorch, Hung Tao Chen, Julie Lemarié

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Two experiments tested the effects of preview sentences and headings on the quality of college students' outlines of informational texts. Experiment 1 found that performance was much better in the preview sentences condition than in a no-signals condition for both printed text and text-to-speech (TTS) audio rendering of the printed text. In contrast, performance in the headings condition was good for the printed text but poor for the auditory presentation because the TTS software failed to communicate nonverbal information carried by the visual headings. Experiment 2 compared outlining performance for five headings conditions during TTS presentation. Using a theoretical framework, "signaling available, relevant, accessible" (SARA) information, to provide an analysis of the information content of headings in the printed text, the manipulation of the headings systematically restored information that was omitted by the TTS application in Experiment 1. The result was that outlining performance improved to levels similar to the visual headings condition of Experiment 1. It is argued that SARA is a useful framework for guiding future development of TTS software for a wide variety of text signaling devices, not just headings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-276
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Headings
  • Text processing
  • Text signaling devices
  • Text-to-speech software

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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