, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 834-839

Eye movements, the perceptual span, and reading speed

Abstract

The perceptual span or region of effective vision during eye fixations in reading was examined as a function of reading speed (fast readers were compared with slow readers), font characteristics (fixed width vs. proportional width), and intraword spacing (normal or reduced). The main findings were that fast readers (reading at about 330 wpm) had a larger perceptual span than did slow readers (reading about 200 wpm) and that the span was not affected by whether or not the text was fixed width or proportional width. In addition, there were interesting font and intraword spacing effects that have important implications for the optimal use of space in a line of text.

The research reported here was supported by a grant from the Microsoft Corporation to the first and second authors.
Preparation of the article was further supported by Grant HD26765 from the National Institutes of Health and the Atkinson Research Fund.
The third author was supported by a fellowship from the Fonds Québécois de la Re cherche sur la Société et la Culture.