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Statistics - comparing word lengths from broadsheet and tabloid newspapers.

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Philip Pearson 11WG

Maths statistics coursework


This investigation involves taking two different newspapers, one a broadsheet newspaper and one a tabloid newspaper.  In each of the newspapers I will choose a random article and measure the length of each word for the first hundred in the article, this will provide me with the information needed to carry out this investigation.  

This investigation will involve three hypotheses, one concerning the tabloid newspaper, one concerning the broadsheet newspaper and one concerning bout the newspapers:

1: The average length of words in a broadsheet newspaper are longer

2: – The average length of words in a tabloid newspaper are longer

3: – There is little noticeable difference between the average lengths of the words

I have chosen to use the length of the word measured in the number of letters.

The investigation will be carried out by taking the front page stories from two newspapers on the same day, the tabloid newspaper and the broadsheet newspaper.  The articles will be taken from the newspaper and the first one hundred words copied into a word document.  When counting the words I will put the results into Excel.

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Here are the mean median and mode word lengths for the papers:


The results are plotted on a scatter graph on the next page:

From this graph we can see how the two papers compare.  The tabloid newspaper has more words containing 1,4,5,6,9 and 11 letters.  The broadsheet has more words containing 2,3,7,8 and 10 letters; they both have only one 12 letter word.  We can see that they both follow the same trend, this can be seen on the graph by looking at the points where the line climbs and drops.  Towards the end of the graph (8, 9, 10, 11, 12) they have very similar amounts of words containing that many letters, only one off each other max.  The biggest differences are seen between the numbers 2 and 7.  The tabloid has considerably more 4 letter words and considerably less 7 letter words.

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When I plotted both sets of results on a graph I was able to compare them very easily.

So I have concluded that my third hypothesis is most likely top be true “There is little noticeable difference between the average lengths of the words”.


I performed the investigation using a stratified sample; the sample was stratified because both the articles were the first article in the paper.  The sample used is extremely small compared to the population it is representing, considering there are a lot more words than one hundred in an article never mind the entire paper.  So if the data was recorded for all the articles in the all the broadsheet and tabloid newspapers it would be a lot more accurate, but this sample still provides a representation of the entire group of paper

The investigation wasn’t that fair because I only used the first 100 words from the papers first article meaning that I only compared very small amounts of the paper.  

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