Research would suggest that reading from (well printed) paper is easier; due to ease of making annotations, navigation and the lower risk of eye strain that can be caused from VDUs.
There are ways to minimise potential eye strain on VDUs, due to lighting and positioning.
Friendly User Interfaces would ease navigation, and the development of new technologies for monitors, would assist in visual acuity and reduction in potential eye strain and problems associated with glare.
We report on a laboratory study that compares reading from paper to
reading on-line. Critical differences have to do with the major
advantages paper offers in supporting annotation while reading, quick
navigation, and flexibility of spatial layout. These, in turn, allow
readers to deepen their understanding of the text, extract a sense of
its structure, create a plan for writing, cross-refer to other
documents, and interleave reading and writing. We discuss the design
implications of these findings for the development of better reading
A Comparison of Reading Paper and On-Line Documents
Kenton O'Hara & Abigail Sellen
Rank Xerox Research Centre (EuroPARC)
61 Regent St.
Cambridge, CB2 1AB, U.K.
The advent of widespread computer use in general and increasing
developments in the domain of hypertext in particular have increased
awareness of the issue of reading electronic text. To date the
literature has been dominated by reference to work on overcoming speed
deficits resulting from poor image quality but an emerging literature
reveals a more complex set of variables at work. The present review
considers the differences between the media in terms of outcomes and
processes of reading and concludes that single variable explanations
are insufficient to capture the range of issues involved in reading
Reading from paper versus screens: a critical review of the empirical literature
Volume 35, Issue 10, 1992
Proof-reading: VDU and paper text compared for speed, accuracy and fatigue
Behaviour & Information Technology
Volume 6, Issue 2, 1987
Visual strain during VDU work: the effect of viewing distance and dark focus
Volume 31, Issue 10, 1988