Online Formats WAS Disabling Print

Subject: Online Formats WAS Disabling Print
From: Sandra Charker <scharker -at- connectives -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 16:55:02 +1100

We've had speculation about why users preferred HTML to PDF, but Is there data? Jessica - did you ask them? did they tell you?

Not to add to the speculation (much), but most of the discussions about formats that we have here seems to compare reading online with reading from print. I'd like to ask about your preferences, if any, between online formats.


I find PDF blurry. I find it tiring and uncomfortable, and I have far more difficulty concentrating on the material when it's in PDF than I do when it's in HTML. I don't know if I'm unique, in a minority, or part of a silent majority. So I thought I'd ask here...


1. Do you notice a difference between reading PDF online and reading HTML online?

2. Do you have a preference either way? If so, which one?

Short answers might be best sent directly to me and I'll summarise them.


I'm less interested in reasons for my discomfort than I am in establishing the existence or otherwise of a general problem. User preference would only be one part of a general problem, of course. Even if it's true that a large number of people dislike / avoid / notice PDF online, that doesn't necessarily mean that they comprehend or remember it less than other online formats. Suggestive though.

I've been told at various times that there's something wrong with my monitors (must have been blurry on over 2 dozen monitors at 4 resolutions by now), my eyes (clever of them to identify file formats like that), that it's all in my imagination (possible), that it's poor choice of fonts (also possible, but I've never seen a clear one). Those explanations all assume that the problem is me (possible, but *highly improbable <g>).

I think the most likely reason is that PDF is just too good for online: screen resolutions still can't cope with those smooth curves. But if that's so why don't more people have difficulty with it? And why would people on this list who usually demonstrate a strong interest in helping people find and retain information recommend a format if there's objective evidence that it's counter-productive.

I've also wondered if it's possible that power supplies have some effect. This seems bizarre (especially if you're working on a laptop), but I have been told that the ancient CGA standard was readable in the US instead of the indistinguishable insult that it was where I saw it. If anyone has read PDFs (preferably the same document) in north America and elsewhere in the world, it would be interesting to know if you noticed any difference.


Sandra Charker

scharker -at- connectives -dot- com

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