A new process, visual-syntactic text formatting (VSTF), transforms block-shaped text into cascading patterns that help readers identify grammatical structure. The new method integrates converging evidence from educational, visual, and cognitive research, and is made feasible through computer-executed algorithms and electronic displays. Among college readers, the VSTF method instantly increased reading comprehension and efficiency of reading online text, while reducing eyestrain. Among high school students, who read with the format over an entire academic year, the VSTF method increased both academic achievement and long-term reading proficiency by more than a full standard deviation over randomized controls.(HT: Sullivan) This makes a lot of sense to me. When trying to convey heirarchical ideas through a linear medium like written text, much confusion can ensue. The brain has to spend a lot of effort building data structures to keep track of what words modify what other words, etc. If the visual layout of the text reflected the underlying grammatical structure, you could spend more effort reading and less effort decoding and shuffling the elements of the text into their proper positions.
Here's an example the authors use. Take the opening of the Declaration of Independence:
And make it look like this:
This sort of formatting seems similar to formatting conventions used in computer programming to aid in making the code more comprehensible to human readers.