Stylistic differences between typed and handwritten essay examinations

Nora Mogey, Jessie Paterson


This paper compares students' answers for two mock examination questions, one of which was written using pen and paper and the other using a basic word processor on student-owned laptops. The focus for this study is on the words, language and style of English, rather than academic or disciplinary merit. The results provide some evidence that there are linguistic or stylistic differences between handwritten and typewritten examination essays. The data support other research in suggesting that students can and will type more words than they will handwrite. This study also presents evidence that the typed scripts tend to be more complex, using significantly more words of three or more syllables and having a higher fog index.

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