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Book: Understanding the Paragraph and Paragraphing

Chapter: The Psychological Effect of Paragraphs and Paragraph Organization on Readers

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.27371


This chapter surveys reader psychology and paragraphs. A review of research into eye movement and paragraph breaks is provided alongside various attempts to explain pause and focus in reading. The author also analyses studies which have investigated how paragraph manipulation affects reader comprehension, memory, and learning, together with research which has examined reader segmentation of de-paragraphed text. It is argued, inter alia, that the effect of a paragraph break, or the effect of a particular way of organizing a paragraph, is mediated or co-mediated by six reader variables. Accordingly, the author argues that one cannot state, with any degree of confidence, what the effect of a paragraph break or type of organization will be for a reader.

Chapter Contributors

  • Iain McGee ( - imcgee) 'University of Nizwa'