Multi-level summaries: A new approach to non-fiction books

I have written a paper on multi-level summaries, which looks at how non-fiction books can be made easier to understand, remember and act on.

The problem

The paper:

  • looks at some of the problems non-fiction readers face including finding it hard to get started, drowning in detail and forgetting what a book is about
  • suggests that there are two ways of approaching a book – through the sequential structure or the meaning structure – and that a key issue for readers is moving from a book’s sequential structure to its meaning structure
  • suggests that, because most non-fiction books have more of an implicit meaning structure, readers face an increased cognitive load and end up not remembering much of what they read.

The solution

The paper:

  • suggests that the solution is to provide multi-level summaries, which provide explicit meaning structures
  • shows that Google Maps is a good analogy for multi-level summaries, which allow readers to zoom in for the detail and zoom out for the big picture
  • explains how multi-level summaries provide a solution to the previously described problems that non-fiction readers face.

Read the paper here –

Date published: April 12, 2017.

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