Send to

Choose Destination
J Vis. 2010 Feb 23;10(2):21.1-17. doi: 10.1167/10.2.21.

Comparing reading speed for horizontal and vertical English text.

Author information

University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.


There are three formats for arranging English text for vertical reading-upright letters arranged vertically (marquee), and horizontal text rotated 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise. Previous research has shown that reading is slower for all three vertical formats than for horizontal text, with marquee being slowest (M. D. Byrne, 2002). It has been proposed that the size of the visual span-the number of letters recognized with high accuracy without moving the eyes-is a visual factor limiting reading speed. We predicted that reduced visual-span size would be correlated with the slower reading for the three vertical formats. We tested this prediction with uppercase and lowercase letters. Reading performance was measured using two presentation methods: RSVP (Rapid Serial Visual Presentation) and flashcard (a block of text on four lines). On average, reading speed for horizontal text was 139% faster than marquee text and 81% faster than the rotated texts. Size of the visual span was highly correlated with changes in reading speed for both lowercase and uppercase letters and for both RSVP and flashcard reading. Our results are consistent with the view that slower reading of vertical text is due to a decrease in the size of the visual span for vertical reading.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center