Designing for On-Screen Narrative Reading: Investigating Text Structure and Reading Comprehension

Abigail Sparling


When it comes to supporting the in-depth linear reading strategies required to process long, information-rich texts, on-screen reading interface designs continue to fall short. With a majority of readers’ long-form reading preferences defaulting to printed texts, there is a need to investigate how and why texts presented on screen are failing readers. In the current study and design of on-screen texts, both scholars and designers fail to account for a text’s conventional structure (from its grammatical construction, to the graphic organization of its content), and how this structure affects the reader’s ability to process the text’s content. For texts with a well-known conventional structure, such as narrative texts which conform to both semantic and spatial structural conventions, text structure cannot be divorced from the cognitive processes of reading and comprehension. Drawing from the fields of narratology, cognitive psychology, and human computer interaction this paper investigates how the study and design of on-screen narrative texts can be improved by understanding and maintaining conventional narrative structures. 

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