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Effect of display factors on Chinese reading times, comprehension scores and preferences

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This paper presents the results of research on elemental standard reading time estimates for traditional Chinese characters on computer displays and explores the factors that may affect the time estimates. Seventy-two native Chinese readers, aged 19 to 24, were asked to read 16 simple passages and then answer four multiple-choice questions. Results indicated that the basic reading time was 213 milliseconds per character (msC  − 1 ) for comprehending the messages conveyed by the passages. Analysis of variance showed that font type, character size, line spacing and display polarity affected reading speed. Traditional Chinese characters of Ming style, 14-point size, double line spacing and positive polarity produced faster reading times and higher preferences than characters of Li style, 10-point size, single line spacing and negative polarity. However, only character size had a significant influence on comprehension score. Recommendations for appropriate display formats and layouts for traditional Chinese characters on computer displays based on the results of subjective preferences and objective measures are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2005

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