Communicating printed headings to the ear

Robert F. Lorch, Hung Tao Chen, Aqeel A. Jawahir, Julie Lemarié

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Two experiments compared three methods of translating printed headings into an auditory format. In both experiments, college students listened to a text with instructions to stop the recording whenever they heard a heading and type the hierarchical level and exact wording of the heading. Listeners were poor at identifying headings and their levels if the headings were not distinguished from the rest of the text. However, listeners were very good at identifying headings if any method of signalling was used to distinguish headings and communicate their hierarchical level. The methods included: (1) tones preceding headings, (2) changes of speaker to indicate headings or (3) verbal labels preceding headings. Although all three signalling methods improved identification of a heading’s hierarchical level, the labelling method was the most effective means of communicating hierarchical level. Thus, the study identifies a simple method of effectively communicating headings in spoken text. Practitioner Summary: The study attempted to identify effective ways of communicating heading information in spoken text. College students listened to texts in order to detect headings and record their wording and hierarchical level. Performance was excellent when headings were preceded by verbal phrases that signalled the upcoming headings and their levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-640
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 3 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Text-to-speech software
  • human–computer interaction
  • software design and evaluation
  • text signalling devices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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