Everyday English 1
Everyday English 1

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Everyday English 1

3.2 Layout and presentation

There are many layout and presentation features that writers use to make texts easier to read or more attractive, or to highlight the message they are trying to get across.

Layout and presentation features that make texts easier to read

  • Headings/titles tell you what the overall topic is

  • Subheadings break up the text, tell you what each section is about

  • Pictures/photos give visual information related to the topic, attract readers, add interest

  • Captions give information about pictures or photos

  • Straplines give further information about the text, sometimes a short summary

  • Logos advertise or show the company involved

  • Bullet points/numbered points list or summarise key information

  • Paragraphs break up the text into readable sections

  • Spacing makes the text attractive, interesting and breaks it up

  • Colour adds interest and makes the text attractive

  • Text size highlights key words, phrases or points

  • Different fonts add variety and highlight words, phrases or information

  • Bold, underling and italics also highlight words, phrases or information

  • Text boxes separate particular pieces or sections of the text

  • Graphs, charts and tables show mathematical information

Activity 21 Presentation features

Allow about 10 minutes

Read the text below and answer the questions.

A sign in a college room
Figure 13 A sign in a college room

1. Who is the notice written for, and why?

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Discussion

The notice is written for students to tell them how they should use the computer room.

2. Who might have written it?

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Discussion

It was probably written by the computer room staff.

3. Can you identify any layout features?

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Discussion

Layout features include bold text, underlining, various fonts and uppercase/capitals.

Typical layout features vary according to the kind of text. Longer texts, like novels, reports or text books, are usually broken down into chapters and sections to help you cope with the information. Shorter texts, like text messages or greeting cards, often have pictures to add interest or meaning.

Activity 22 Layout and structure of texts

Allow about 10 minutes

What kind of layout and structure would you expect to find in the following types of text?

  • Short story

  • School text book

  • Birthday card

  • News article

  • Bank statement

  • Poster about a school fete

Here are some ideas you can choose from: cartoons, colour, chapters, columns of figures, diagrams, headlines, logo, paragraphs, pictures, sections, short message, short paragraphs, short words, title, verse

The first example has been added to help you think about the texts.

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Discussion

Here are some of the layout features for the different kinds of text.

  • Short story – title, paragraphs
  • School text book – sections, chapters, diagrams
  • Birthday card – short message, picture, verse
  • News article –headline, picture, short paragraphs
  • Bank statement – columns of figures, logo
  • Poster about a school fete – headline, short words, cartoons, colour

Different types of layout and style can be used to make the important points stand out, like bullet points (see example below) and subheadings.

Most texts in newspapers and magazines use:

  • different font sizes
  • bold, underlining and italics.

A good example of something which uses a presentation style designed for its audience is a story book for young children. A storybook uses simple sentences and lots of coloured pictures. This encourages young readers to practise their reading skills. There may only be three or four words on each page.

Activity 23 Appropriate presentation

Allow about 5 minutes

Take a look at the pages from two children’s books below.

Version 1 was written for children who are just learning to read. Version 2 is for children of 7–8 years of age.

A page from a children’s book
Figre 14 Version 1 of a children’s book
A page from a children’s book
Figure 15 Version 2 of a children’s book

Find four differences between the ways these two stories are written and printed. Then think about why the stories are presented in these ways.

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Discussion

Text 1 has a larger font, is in bold, has a picture, uses short words and is separated into short sentences.

Text 2 is in italics, uses a smaller font and is in a whole paragraph.

The versions are different because they are adapted to be suitable for the age and ability of the reader. Older children who read more confidently can cope with the challenge of smaller fonts and longer words, sentences and paragraphs. Children just learning to read need fonts that are easier to read and a structure that helps them practise but doesn’t put them off.

Activity 24 Web pages

Allow about 10 minutes

Take a look at the features of web pages listed below. Then see if they are present on this Open University web page (open the link in a new tab or window): Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell wins physics prize [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Tick each one that you can see.

Then take a look at the Open University Courses web page (again, open the link in a new tab or window). Can you see features that aren’t used in the previous example?

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Discussion

The first web page has:

  • a logo, to show the reader they are on an Open University website

  • a short, clear heading, so it is immediately clear what the page is about

  • links to other web pages within the article and along the side of it

  • pictures, both under the heading to draw readers in and within the article to add interest.

It doesn’t have a subheading, but it has a summary of what the article is about. It doesn’t have boxes, but the section down the right-hand side of the page separates out the links to other articles.

You may have noticed that the second web page has many of the other features, like boxes and sections, coloured backgrounds, coloured fonts and different sized fonts. These make it easy to find your way around the page and make it look attractive.

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