Column setting and text justification influence return-sweep eye movement behavior during Chinese multi-line reading

Wang, Mengsi, Gill, Donna Elizabeth orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8471-1330, Judge, Jeannie, Zang, Chuanli orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9573-4968, Bai, Xuejun and Liversedge, Simon Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8579-8546 (2024) Column setting and text justification influence return-sweep eye movement behavior during Chinese multi-line reading. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications .

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People regularly read multi-line texts in different formats and publishers, internationally, must decide how to present text to make reading most effective and efficient. Relatively few studies have examined multi-line reading, and fewer still Chinese multi-line reading. Here, we examined whether texts presented in single or double columns, and either left justified or fully justified affect Chinese reading. Text format had minimal influence on overall reading time, however, it significantly impacted return-sweeps (large saccades moving the eyes from the end of one line of text to the beginning of the next). Return-sweeps were launched and landed further away from margins, and involved more corrective saccades in single- than double-column format. For left- compared to fully-justified format, return-sweeps were launched and landed closer to margins. More corrective saccades also occurred. Our results showed more efficient return-sweep behavior for fully- than left justified text. Moreover, there were clear trade-off effects such that formats requiring increased numbers of shorter return-sweeps produced more accurate targeting and reduced numbers of corrective fixations, whereas formats requiring reduced numbers of longer return-sweeps caused less accurate targeting and an increased rate of corrective fixations. Overall, our results demonstrate that text formats substantially affect return-sweep eye movement behavior during Chinese reading without affecting efficiency and effectiveness, that is, the overall time it takes to read and understand the text.

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