This paper reviews the literature on reading continuous text from VDUs. The focus is on the reported nature, and potential causes, of reading differences between paper and screens. The first section outlines the scope of the present review. Section 2 discusses the nature of the reported differences between reading from either presentation medium. Five broad differences have been identified suggesting that reading from VDUs is slower, less accurate, more fatiguing, decreases comprehension and is rated inferior by readers. Evidence for the existence of each of these differences is reviewed and conclusions are drawn. In Section 3, ten variables which have been proposed as potential causes of reading differences between paper and screen are reviewed. These include screen dynamics, display polarity, orientation, viewing angle and user characteristics. Recent evidence by Gould et al.11 is presented which suggests that the image quality of the screen display is the crucial factor and indicate that positive presentation, high resolution and anti-aliasing interactively affect performance by enhancing the quality of the displayed image. The implications of this work for screen presentation of text are presented.
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