Re: The semi-magic number 7? Not for lists.

Subject: Re: The semi-magic number 7? Not for lists.
From: Bill Marcotte <billm -at- EICON -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 09:58:14 -0400

I recently finished a course on educational psychology. One theory of lists
(backed up with some but not a lot of research) is that people tend to
remember only what's on the top and bottom of long lists. Although the magic
number may not be seven, it is better to break lists into categories, which
aids memory. In any event, if there are so many bullet points, perhaps they
can be restructured into some well-worded paragraphs :).

Bill Marcotte

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Geoff Hart [mailto:Geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA]
> Sent: Wednesday, May 05, 1999 8:34 AM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: The semi-magic number 7? Not for lists.
> Dick Margulis wants a pointer to <<...the recent discussion
> (or a reference of some sort) concerning the fallacy that one
> must never ever have more than seven items in a list?>>
> First off, don't worry about checking DejaNews, since we
> have our own techwr-l archives:
> The bottom line is that Miller's research focused on short-term
> memory (e.g., remembering phone numbers), not information
> presented permanently on the printed page. Although Miller's
> general observation is broadly applicable (i.e., shorter lists are
> easier to handle than longer lists, all else being equal), his
> specific observation is not broadly applicable, and certainly
> not to lists. Moreover, even if it were, there would be
> countless factors more important than the number of list
> items: how well written or how complex each item is, whether
> mnemonic aids were included with each item, whether the
> reader's context is stressful or relaxed, and on and on.
> I haven't provided the citation for Miller's article because it's
> not light reading and I wouldn't lightly recommend it to
> anyone else; I've managed to make it through once through
> sheer cussedness, and one day I'm going to sit down and
> write an English summary for my own use that I can
> understand with less effort. It's not that he's writing about
> anything really difficult to understand, just that he's writing it
> so badly.
> --Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
> geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
> "Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.
> ==============================================================
> =============
> Send commands to listserv -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu (e.g., SIGNOFF

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