Paper, Please

 As a writer, I can say that reading on CRTs (Does anyone still have them?) or on a flat screen display provides no difference in comprehension than does reading from a printed page or Digital Ink display.

What does change, however, is the ability to catch typographical, punctuation and spelling errors. I find that I miss quite a number of such blunders when editing from a computer or color tablet screen, but find far more when reading a printout.

I suspect this phenomenon stems from the fact that digital screens, no matter the type (besides Digital Ink), have some degree of “flicker” associated with the projection of information. This flicker, I believe, tricks they eye/brain connection in much the same way as reading one of those nonsense-spelled words that we automatically translate into real words.

If I write ‘buglary’ you will read burglary.

The screen flicker kind of hypnotizes your brain into believing everything is correct, so you skip along without noticing errors. Only on printed pages do you stall your reading when you come to mistakes.

If our screens were Digital Ink (black on white mimicing of actual paper), our ability to detect errors would match that of the printed page.

Still, you do get the information, which is the important part. Just don’t count on your novels, school papers or work documents being flawless if you don’t paper edit first.

See the following article on mobile NY Times.

Reading Literature On Screen: A Price for Convenience

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About Bill Weiss

Bill Weiss is a creative and freelance writer and founder of the Writerspark creative writing group.
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