Not more baseball…
I’m wondering what is the optimum visual field or display size for reading on a computer screen?
I haven’t been able to find an easy answer to this question for a number of reasons and what I’ve found for research indicates many conflicting studies. One difficulty is that you have to really define what optimum means. Are you optimizing for speed, comprehension, or satisfaction? Also the size of the documents you are reading can change the optimizing factors for presenting it.
So here’s a compilation of research papers that I’ve found related to the Visual Field, Optimum Display Size, whatever you want to call it problem.
Adults were measured against children in 3 sets of line length for reading time and effective reading score yet no real differences were found. What is interesting is the perceived results, only in adults found the narrow to medium line length (45 – 76 CPL – characters per line) to be preferred when compared to the full length (132 CPL).
Twenty college-age students were given news articles to read displaying in 35, 55, 75, or 95 characters per line from a computer monitor. The results showed that passages formatted with 95 cpl resulted in faster reading speed with no effects for comprehension or satisfaction other than strong preferences for sizes.
An attempt at more meaningful analysis of the effect of window size on reader comprehension and manipulation of “real-world” texts. Participants were given journal articles for comprehension and a software manual for specific information. Indications that screen size does not play a major factor in performance on either task and readers prefer larger screens. (no kidding!)
Previous research made conclusions from the screens of the 1980s vs. paper, however when comparing against high quality CRTs speed and comprehension are equivalent. However skimming on a CRT is still 41% slower than from a book, reasons for this finding are discussed.
A fantastic overview of a lot of different research that has taken place with breakdowns of key variable components of each experiment. If you only read one paper this is likely the best one to get a handle on the situation.
Cited in several other papers but I couldn’t track down an available source for this paper.
Please leave comments for other related research articles, I’d love to be able to find more information on this topic.