Screen reading

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Screen reading is the act of reading a text on a computer screen, smartphone, e-book reader, etc. It is often contrasted with the act of reading a text on paper, in particular a printed text.[1]

In a 1997 study conducted by Jakob Nielsen, a leading web usability expert who co-founded usability consulting company Nielsen Norman Group with Donald Norman, it was discovered that generally people read 25% slower on a computer screen in comparison with a printed page.[1] The researchers state that this is only true for when reading on an older type computer screen with a low-scanrate. In eyetracking tests, Nielsen also discovered that people read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern that consists of two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.[2] A similar study, using search results from the Google search engine, determined that readers primarily looked at a triangular area of the top and left side of the screen. This corresponds to the Nielsen F-shaped pattern, and was dubbed the Google Golden Triangle.[3]

Critics have voiced concerns about screen reading, though some have taken a more positive stance. Kevin Kelly believes that we are transitioning from "book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality".[4][5] Anne Mangen holds that because of the materiality of a printed book the reader is more engaged with a text, while the opposite is true with a digital text in which the reader is engaged in a "shallower, less focused way".[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Alex Beam (2009-06-19). "I screen, you screen, we all screen". The Boston Globe. 
  2. ^ Jakob Nielsen (2006-04-17). "F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content". 
  3. ^ "Google Search's Golden Triangle". Eyetools. Archived from the original on 13 January 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  4. ^ Kevin Kelly (2008-11-21). "Becoming Screen Literate". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Christine Rosen. "People of the Screen", The New Atlantis, Number 22, Fall 2008, pp. 20–32.
  6. ^ Anne Mangen (2008). "Hypertext fiction reading: haptics and immersion". Journal of Research in Reading 31 (4): 404–419. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9817.2008.00380.x. 
  7. ^ Mark Bauerlein (2008-09-19). "Online Literacy Is a Lesser Kind: Slow reading counterbalances Web skimming". The Chronicle of Higher Education (Washington, D.C.) 54 (31): Page B7.