Erin Hickey


Document portability programs transform electronic documents into a state that allows information to be viewed, annotated, and printed by any computer system, regardless of the original computer platform or software application used to create the primary document. In addition, portable documents maintain formatting, fonts and graphics as they appear in the original. Despite the unique opportunity these programs offer for distributing information, most portable document developers do not use the technology effectively. Poor font rendering and page sizes too large for easy navigation or comfortable monitor viewing make most portable documents impractical for pure electronic use. When a document is presented on screen, it no longer has the same properties as a printed page. Though the information contained within it may not have changed, the reader has less control over the conditions under which the document will be read. It becomes the responsibility of the creator to present that information in a useful manner, if he or she wishes the information to reach its audience. The purpose of this study was to determine whether it is possible, through simple formulaic reformatting, to create highly legible text intensive documents for on screen viewing using a document portability program, specifically Adobes Portable Document Format. This objective was achieved by determining the factors that con tribute to legibility and creating and testing various documents based on those findings. Three experiments were conducted to determine whether the portable document format is a viable medium for viewing text intensive documents on screen. It was found that though the portable document format has revolutionary specific uses, and if documents are formatted specifically for the medium users prefer them over nonoptimized documents, users still prefer to read text intensive documents on paper.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Text processing (Computer science); Portable document software; Electronic publishing

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Print Media (CIAS)


Cost, Frank


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: QA76.9.T48 H54 1996


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