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Strategy #1: Utilizing headings and subheadings

Textbooks use boldfaced section headings to improve readability. Often these headings vary in color and/or size according to the type of information they introduce. These headings provide a framework to better understand the ideas presented and their interrelationship. They also break down information into digestible chunks.

When selecting a textbook, look for an intelligent use of headings and subheadings within chapters.

Two factors to consider:

1) What the headings say

  • Can students use the headings to formulate questions to help them create purpose and focus for their reading?
  • Do the headings clearly identify the main ideas of the chapter and emphasize how ideas interrelate?
  • Do the headings deliver the information to students in digestible chunks?

2) The visual impact

  • Do the size and color of the headings help readers create purpose and focus for their reading?
  • Do the size and color of the headings show the interrelationship of ideas?

For example, here the readings and subheadings are size-coded.

Overall subject of Chapter
   First major idea/concept
      Sub-idea within this major idea/concept area
          Elaborating details/supporting ideas within this area

In this next example, the headings and subheadings are not only size-coded, but also color-coded.

Overall subject of Chapter
   First major idea/concept
      Sub-idea within this major idea/concept area
          Elaborating details/supporting ideas within this area