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Static PDFs Aren’t Ideal for Reading

According to a study in Scientific American, individuals who read PDF documents as opposed to traditional paper copies tend to retain less information. The counteractive element contributing to this effect may be related to the limited ability to navigate and cross-reference within PDFs.

“Half the students read the texts on paper and half read them in pdf files on computers with 15-inch liquid-crystal display (LCD) monitors. Afterward, students completed reading-comprehension tests consisting of multiple-choice and short-answer questions, during which they had access to the texts. Students who read the texts on computers performed a little worse than students who read on paper.
Based on observations during the study, Mangen thinks that students reading pdf files had a more difficult time finding particular information when referencing the texts. Volunteers on computers could only scroll or click through the pdfs one section at a time, whereas students reading on paper could hold the text in its entirety in their hands and quickly switch between different pages. Because of their easy navigability, paper books and documents may be better suited to absorption in a text.”

It is time to abandon PDF and switch to modern dynamic HTML. You cannot put an old paradigm into a new form. The page format works for the paper world but does not work for the digital world.

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Dr. Rado

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