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Emphasize Hyper in Hypertext

Last updated Oct 17, 2003.

Though readers crave online content, they approach online content differently than reading paper. The Stanford-Poynter study ( indicates nearly 80 percent of the readers read article summaries rather than complete articles. When viewing complete articles, readers only read 75 percent of the text. Also, in online reading our eyes naturally go to the center of the screen instead of top to bottom, and left to right when reading print.

When converting an article from paper to screen, try trimming it 50 percent and omitting needless words such as really and very and facts that don't support the argument. This tip helps bring out the important details in an article and shortening it for online reading. Continue cutting the article in half until you have a one to two line sentence that could be useful as the summary or synopsis.

Tip #1: Keep content concise.


Further evidence from the study offers the following stats based on the amount of time spent during a reading session:

  • 92 percent read article text

  • 82 percent read briefs

  • 64 percent look at photos

  • 45 percent glance at banner ads

  • 22 percent view graphics

Readers didn't sequentially visit pages or Web sites. Instead, they opened a page and scanned it, opened more pages in separate windows and engaged in back and forth reading among open windows. Sounds like sites need to spout compelling text with minimal pictures to accommodate hyper eyes.

Jakob Nielsen and John Morkes found that 79 percent of their test users scanned the page and only 16 percent read the page word for word. People read 25 percent slower online than in print providing more support for concise and scannable text.

Tip #2: Make content scannable.