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Compare the writing styles in two different publications

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GCSE Maths Coursework: Statistical Investigation Assignment


The aim of my investigation is to compare the writing styles in two different publications. To do this, I have decided to use a newspaper from two different time periods to see how the writing style has changed over time. This will show me which, out of the two papers, is the more complicated and therefore which is easier to read and from two completely different eras.


I predict that the older newspaper will have longer words and more words per sentence than the newer paper and therefore will be more complicated than the newer paper as I think that language has degraded and shortened through time.

Problems To Consider

  1. What will I do with hyphenated words such as “right-footer” and other things like “-“ which I found in the article.
  2. How to choose words randomly (fairly) in both articles so that I don’t get a biased result.
  3. How many words do I need to collect to know that my data is an accurate representation of the overall picture?
  4. How to choose which sentences in the articles to use to make the comparison fair.
  5. I have only a small amount of time to carry out the investigation, if I wanted to investigate it fully it may take more than two articles, as the ones I picked may not be a fair representation.


As mentioned above, I am going to be using two newspaper articles, one from an old newspaper from 1989 and an article from this year.

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To make the comparison fair, I will do the same things for both articles like finding the same word number – if the number 45 is generated, I will find the 45th word in both articles and count how many letters it has. Also, instead of counting the word lengths and sentence length myself, I can use Microsoft Word to do it to try and avoid human error in case I make a mistake by the selecting the word or sentence and clicking on, TOOLS, WORD COUNT tabs on the menu. For finding the mean (= AVERAGE), median (= MEDIAN), mode (= MODE) and standard deviation (= STDEVP) I will use formulas in Microsoft Excel, which are the words in brackets.

Investigation Into Word Lengthsimage00.png


Old Newspaper

New Newspaper










Standard deviation



Analysis Of Word Lengths

The bar chart above shows the word lengths collected from both papers with the older paper being the blue bars and the newer paper being the purple bars. The graph easily shows the mode as this is the word length that is seen the most as you just look for the bar that is furthest to the left and the old newspaper has the higher mode suggesting that it has longer words, but the other calculations were done on Microsoft Excel using formulas as mentioned before. The median for the word length in the papers was the same for both which I find quite surprising considering my original hypothesis, as I would have expected the median to be much higher in the older paper.

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As I’ve mentioned above in the summary, the test was not as conclusive as I think it could have been if I had more time like the random number generation as I don’t think this was fair as when I read the two articles beforehand, I could see myself that the older paper had much longer words and sentences than the new paper, yet, this didn’t seem to be the case when all the findings were added up as all the longer words seem to have been missed out of the old paper and the longer words have been counted in the newer paper. Given more time, I would try and get all the words from each article, as to me, this is the only absolutely fair way of comparing the two articles, but even so, this could be an unfair comparison as well, as the articles are not the same length and so this could hinder the comparison yet again. If doing that still didn’t change the results then, I think that if I could do the comparison again, I would try and get a paper, which was even older than the one from 1989, as the paper from 1989 my be too recent and the writing style may not have actually changed at all, I think an article from the 1950’s or 1960’s would probably be a better idea. Also, instead of choosing just one article in the paper, I could choose 3 or 4 to give an even more definite result and the more things that are tested, the more accurate the outcome will be.

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