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The impact of hyperlinks on reading text

The impact of hyperlinks on reading text
The impact of hyperlinks on reading text
There has been debate about whether blue hyperlinks on the Web cause disruption to reading. A series of eye tracking experiments were conducted to explore if coloured words in black text had any impact on reading behaviour outside and inside a Web environment. Experiment 1 and 2 explored the saliency of coloured words embedded in single sentences and the impact on reading behaviour. In Experiment 3, the effects of coloured words/hyperlinks in passages of text in a Web-like environment was explored. Experiment 1 and 2 showed that multiple coloured words in text had no negative impact on reading behaviour. However, if the sentence featured only a single coloured word, a reduction in skipping rates was observed. This suggests that the visual saliency associated with a single coloured word may signal to the reader that the word is important, whereas this signalling is reduced when multiple words are coloured. In Experiment 3, when reading passages of text containing hyperlinks in a Web environment, participants showed a tendency to re-read sentences that contained hyperlinked, uncommon words compared to hyperlinked, common words. Hyperlinks highlight important information and suggest additional content, which for more difficult concepts, invites rereading of the preceding text.
1932-6203
1-20
Fitzsimmons, Gemma
ac6b7c69-8992-44f1-92ca-05aa22e75129
Weal, Mark
e8fd30a6-c060-41c5-b388-ca52c81032a4
Drieghe, Denis
dfe41922-1cea-47f4-904b-26d5c9fe85ce
Fitzsimmons, Gemma
ac6b7c69-8992-44f1-92ca-05aa22e75129
Weal, Mark
e8fd30a6-c060-41c5-b388-ca52c81032a4
Drieghe, Denis
dfe41922-1cea-47f4-904b-26d5c9fe85ce

Fitzsimmons, Gemma, Weal, Mark and Drieghe, Denis (2019) The impact of hyperlinks on reading text. PLoS ONE, 14 (2), 1-20. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0210900).

Record type: Article

Abstract

There has been debate about whether blue hyperlinks on the Web cause disruption to reading. A series of eye tracking experiments were conducted to explore if coloured words in black text had any impact on reading behaviour outside and inside a Web environment. Experiment 1 and 2 explored the saliency of coloured words embedded in single sentences and the impact on reading behaviour. In Experiment 3, the effects of coloured words/hyperlinks in passages of text in a Web-like environment was explored. Experiment 1 and 2 showed that multiple coloured words in text had no negative impact on reading behaviour. However, if the sentence featured only a single coloured word, a reduction in skipping rates was observed. This suggests that the visual saliency associated with a single coloured word may signal to the reader that the word is important, whereas this signalling is reduced when multiple words are coloured. In Experiment 3, when reading passages of text containing hyperlinks in a Web environment, participants showed a tendency to re-read sentences that contained hyperlinked, uncommon words compared to hyperlinked, common words. Hyperlinks highlight important information and suggest additional content, which for more difficult concepts, invites rereading of the preceding text.

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PONE-D-18-28198R1_FTC2 - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 4 January 2019
Published date: 6 February 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 427819
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/427819
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: be434b91-43c0-4449-96da-6d5f22f1ce28
ORCID for Gemma Fitzsimmons: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4519-0499
ORCID for Mark Weal: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6251-8786

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Date deposited: 29 Jan 2019 17:30
Last modified: 16 Apr 2019 04:01

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Contributors

Author: Gemma Fitzsimmons ORCID iD
Author: Mark Weal ORCID iD
Author: Denis Drieghe

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