|dc.description.abstract||Reading and seeking information in documents are among the crucial literacies of our
time. Our ability to carry out these activities successfully is due to a long series of
innovations in information design that go back thousands of years. Such innovations
are increasingly valuable today.
This dissertation introduces an innovative format for print and online
documents that I call “QuikScan.” QuikScan employs summaries and highlighting to
spotlight the superordinate ideas (or gist) of a document. It uses multiple
within-document summaries to synthesize each section of a document. The summaries
are typically formatted as numbered list items that correspond to the “target numbers”
in the main body of text where the summarized items are elaborated fully. QuikScan
enables readers to grasp the gist of a document and locate specific information
Drawing upon the literature on information design, reading and reading signals,
and summaries, this research presents the design of QuikScan, a design that can be
applied to different document genres, different reader populations, and different
contexts of document use.
Two empirical studies are reported to demonstrate QuikScan’s effectiveness on
reading. The first study shows that QuikScan significantly improves reading
comprehension and potentially enhances retention. The second study reveals that
QuikScan significantly improves the efficiency of information seeking.
The main analysis of QuikScan centers on its rhetorical implications.
Grounded on the rhetorical theories of author-reader relationships, this dissertation
presents a multi-faceted view of the QuikScanner, the reader, and the QuikScan
process. It demonstrates the rhetorical dynamics of QuikScan, frames QuikScan as a
document intermediary, and discusses complex relationships facilitated by the
document intermediary. Using QuikScan as a test bed, this research extends our
understanding of author-reader relationships.
Additionally, this dissertation explores a number of special circumstances
where QuikScan can be especially desirable, including assisting business meeting
attendees, visually impaired readers, and RSS feed users. It describes the process of
QuikScanning documents and presents important guidelines. In concluding, the
dissertation highlights its major contributions to technical communication and
discusses ideas for future research.||en_US