Re: Indexes - Printed vs. On-line

Subject: Re: Indexes - Printed vs. On-line
From: Karen Kay <karenk -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 1994 11:16:31 -0800

Richard Lippincott said:
> Unfortunately, here's where I'm going to fall short: I don't understand why
> it's easier to spot a typo on paper. Perhaps it's screen size, or resolution,
> but I have a strange feeling neither of these is it. There's something more
> fundimental that we've overlooked -- that we've ALL overlooked -- that causes
> this to happen. We've got to figure out what it is, because it's important,
> whatever it is.

I've been reading and thinking about visual perception for 3 years
partly because of this very problem. (But I don't have any answers.)

> 1) It's cultural.

I think this is close to being right--and I don't see this changing in
our lifetimes.

I was one of those people who couldn't write on a computer (15 years
ago)--now I sometimes do the first sentence on paper, and the rest on
the computer. Mostly it's all on computer. I'm slowly getting better
at seeing typos on the screen, too.

> 2) It's in the brain. A piece of paper does not move.

I think the first sentence is right, and the second is wrong. I think
a lot of 'reading' (which includes scanning, which is how we catch
typos) has to do with pattern recognition. W/ a small (normal-sized)
monitor you can't see as much of the page as you do when you hold it
in your hand. When your eyes are looking at one page, your brain is
still processing the stuff from the last page sometimes--it's harder
to create that effect w/ a computer. Mostly computer screens don't
give our brains enough info to work with, to draw a pattern from.

One of the things that drove me nuts on my last project was line
spacing--I ended up printing everything several times because I could
either check the line spacing (using full-page print preview) or I
could check for types by using magnfication, but I couldn't do both at
the same time, which I *could* do with paper.

I'm glad you asked this question--it has important implications for
online documentation.

karenk -at- netcom -dot- com

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