Reimagining digital publishing for technical documents

Digital versions of technical documents, like textbooks and academic papers, are usually produced as static PDF files. Research has shown that working with these on electronic devices is frustrating and inefficient, partly because people do not read such documents in a linear fashion as they do novels. This project reimagines digital publishing for technical documents and proposes to investigate and evaluate a new dynamic view of documents with uninterrupted body text, flexible navigation, and contextual information—figures, references, definitions, etc—that are displayed in a separate view alongside the portion of the document that refers to them. This project will lead to better digital reading environments for these type of document.

A rough mock-up of a potential new digital reading environment. The left panel shows the text of the document, dynamically laid out in a vertical scroll with font size and area designed to maximise reading efficiency. The right panel shows a context-specific selection of figures, tables and references, as thumbnails of various sizes depending on importance and relevance to the currently displayed document text.