TL;DR: Please see the question title above for the question. All of the following is optional.

Source: ... The Science of Paper versus Screens, 2013 April 11, by Ferris Jabr, Scientific American

[Source in the affirmative]: [User 'billfalls' commented:] I was surprised to see no reference to the research reported by Jakob Nielsen, the expert on website usability. Empirical studies he cites, performed by himself and others, show that reading on a screen is more tiring and is remembered more poorly than reading on paper.

[Source in the negative:] [User 'EdgarManhattan' commented:] The studies cited in this article are just chronicling the transition from paper to electronic media ... They are finding the awkward places that will be smoothed out by advancing technology and the constant cycling of human generations.

... I'm comfortable with reading on a good monitor or on an ebook, although I'm in a demographic that supposedly prefers paper. But a lot of paper books have unpleasant fonts. And a lot of books are printed in awkward sizes, on badly chosen paper. Only a small subset of printed books are actually a pleasure to read.

Source: ... Why the Smart Reading Device ... May Be … Paper, 2014 May 1, by Brandon Keim, wired.com

Evidence affirming the question: ...In the meantime, other research does suggest possible differences. A 2004 study found that students more fully remembered what they’d read on paper. Those results were echoed by an experiment that looked specifically at e-books, and another by psychologist Erik Wästlund at Sweden’s Karlstad University, who found that students learned better when reading from paper.

Evidence negativing the question: ... Rakefet Ackerman at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has found that students reading on paper and screen may think differently about their own learning processes.

.... the science is far from settled. A study by psychologist Sara Margolin of Brockport University found no difference in reading comprehension in students reading paper, computer screens and e-readers. “It’s really a matter of personal preference,” said Margolin.

Another study of students using paper and electronic textbooks found no significant differences — and for some readers, such as those with dyslexia who find it easier to concentrate on small sections of text, Thomson found that e-readers may already be superior to paper books.

  • Scientifically, I can't address this. I do know I prefer reading my Kindle to an ordinary screen, though--I believe this is because the Kindle works by reflected light rather than emitted light and thus is normally lit correctly for the environment it is in, never too bright or too dark. Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 5:04
  • This is very unclear, to the point that it can't be answered. The claim you present does not speak about "efficiency", but about "advantages" and "preferences". Please clarify your question.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 9:21
  • i have read a few articles stating the memory retention is better reading via paper over digital media, im not sure thats exactly what he wants to go for with this question but that would be interesting to look at.
    – Himarm
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 14:14
  • @LawArea51Proposal-Commit you need to find a better claim, the ones you present seem not to really contradict each other, nor claim something specific enough to be answerable. In particular, there are not only 2 mediums on which to read (ebooks can be rendered on electronic ink devices which has similar readability to paper; screens have different DPIs and sizes) and not all the things we read are of the same kind: a news article is not the same as a book, or as a textbook or as question and answer.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 14:36
  • @Himarm Thanks. Please advise how to improve this? Should I rephrase this with respect to 'memory retention'?
    – user16959
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 18:42


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