Textens accessoarer

Lars Melin


A text in not just text. It is layout, too, and illustrations, and lots of paratexts - i e introductions, legends, text in frames, headlines, coloured paragraphs, drop quotes etc. All that is a challenge for the analyst, but there is more to it. How does the conventionalization work, and do all the accessories pay off? Several studies of conventionalization are accounted for in this article. They all display a slow and in many respects inconsequent conventionalization of the graphical means for giving structure to a text. The effect of layout is measured in reading time, memory retention and appreciation of the text. The main results are the following: Layout and illustration can attract readers’ attention but they are no guarantee for memory retention; Moderate effort to give layout to a text does not pay off, but an elaborated graphical form gives shorter reading time, better memory retention and more appreciation of the text; Illustrations slow down the reading but enhance memory retention, especially when the pictures are stylized, relevant for the text and have a moderate dose of positive emotive loading.

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