Three information functions of headings: A test of the SARA theory of signaling

Robert F. Lorch, Julie Lemarié, Russell A. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Text signals include a wide variety of writing devices that emphasize specific content within a text, the organization of a text, or both (Lorch, 1989;Meyer, 1975). Signals presumably evolved as a means for an author to guide readers' processing of a text by making the text structure and important content more salient to the reader. Although signals share a common general purpose, they are a seeming hodgepodge of devices that includes headings, typographical variations, topical overviews and summaries, outlines, bulleting and numbering, preview sentences, and other devices (Lorch, 1989). Despite their variety, a recent theory has provided a unifying framework for understanding the relations between signaling devices and for hypothesizing about their effects on text processing (Lemarié Lorch, Eyrolle, & Virbel, 2008). The purpose of this study is to provide a first test of that theory by examining one of its central claims regarding the types of information communicated by signals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-160
Number of pages22
JournalDiscourse Processes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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