The Use of Subtitles In (Legal-Related and Other) Articles

The use of subtitles in a story can serve as a roadmap for the reader and the author. In our readings on sobriety court, only the women’s health Web MD article uses subtitles, but none of the others do. Why is that and when might you think of using them? In others words …

How do subtitles (or a subtitle in particular) change the way readers take in an article?

You may answer one, all, or none of these options for starters about the conversation:

What does the Web MD article gain and/or lose by using its subtitles (“Prevalence higher in Whites”, “Higher Blood Alcohol”)?

What do the other articles gain by refraining from subtitles and/or what could they gain from installing them?

Do the subtitles represent the words below them accurately and do they do justice to the story as written?


4 Responses to “The Use of Subtitles In (Legal-Related and Other) Articles”

  1. In my opinion, subtitles, like the ones you are talking about, make it much easier to casually read an article. I feel like most people reading these types of articles are doing it for leisure. Not everyone is critically analyzing each line and statistic. They are probably taking a break at work, at home eating breakfast, or just lounging around and looking for something stimulating to read. These subtitles bring the reader back to the article if their mind has drifted off. They plainly state the focus of each section, which the reader can very easily understand. If someone is skimming the article, the subtitles give the main points so that even if a section is skipped, its content will still be understood. This roadmap just makes for an easier read. Articles without them may seem more fluid and continuous, but I’m a reader who has trouble concentrating on any given passage for an extended period of time so I would rather have them there.

  2. This post raises some interesting questions – rarely do we take the time to consider what techniques the author of an article is employing to grab our attention. By using a subtitle like “Prevalence Higher in Whites”, the writer essentially provides a highlight for their reader, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how closely you expect your audience to pay attention to your writing. I agree with Charlie^, it institutes a leisurely atmosphere. Kind of like showing an “Up Next” TV show segment to snare you into staring at your screen for an extra twenty minutes. If an article has a subtitle, the reader could essentially not read the actual text at all and still walk away with a vague understanding of what was being discussed.

  3. When I was reading that article, I actually didn’t notice the subtitles. I had to go back and really look for them. I guess I wasn’t reading that thoroughly, but after finding them, I didn’t feel as if I had missed any information in the article, and I came to the same conclusions. I agree that the subtitles highlight the important aspects of the article, or rather what the author thinks are the important parts. This is nice for leisurely reading, and being able to quickly understand a few of the main points made during the reading. However, I think it changes the way a reader takes in the article. Without the subtitles, I may have highlighted other aspects of the article, or came to different conclusions based on information also in the article. The facts or items that may be important to the author may not be to me. Subtitles have the potential to shape how a reader interprets an article, and the conclusions the reader reaches, which I don’t think is right or necessary.

  4. I think that subtitles help the readers navigate through an article efficiently. It can save them time because they can directly find something they are looking for without reading the entire article. The Web MD article may gain more readers for this reason. However, it may lead to readers not going through the entire article, meaning that they may not understand the whole story. The other articles do not use subtitles, which forces people to read through the story. This can be an advantage because it can give out information more thoroughly and accurately. Many times a subtitle can accurately describe the words below them, but this is not always the case. Subtitles stand out very well in an article, and readers may misinterpret a story.

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