Are there studies on the whether it's better to read ebooks in landscape or portrait mode on typical smartphone screen? "Ebook" here implies that the text fills up most of the page with free reflow (e.g. not a PDF that has the same characters on each line in both modes), many pages read one after another; and the font size remains identical between portrait and landscape.

Screen sizes I care about are of typical smartphones, e.g. around 4.5"-5.5", typically circa 16:9 or 16:10 factor.

The measurements defining "better" can be (at least those I can think of) either reading speed, the content retention, eye tiredness, or mental tiredness.

  • I would guess for dramas portrait mode would be in many cases totally better, because of many short sentences, each starting in new line.
    – user43
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


Some where (I can't find it right now), I read that 72 characters per line was best for reading comprehension. When there was less than this the end of line moving your eye to the begging of the next line slowed you down, and when there was more than this following lines become more difficult, because you have to move your head which makes eye tracking more difficult.

The study did not take into account dyslexia.

So I guess it depends on your font size.

  • 1
    I've heard similar. It's supposed to be the same reason newspapers split the text into multiple columns.
    – Jason Down
    Commented Dec 30, 2013 at 13:56
  • I'm afraid this is largely wishful thinking and urban mythology. 72 characters was the default wrap width of text editors in fixed-width mode (still is in Emacs). it is a wholly inappropriate measure when working in a proportionally-spaced font where there is no such measure as "a character" because they are all different widths. Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 21:17
  • [Sorry for addition, 5-min limit on edits isn't enough time to locate references: operators please note.] 72 chars does, however, come close to a workable width: one recommendation for optimal line length is 1½–2 alphabets (Charles Fyffe, "Basic Copyfitting", Studio Vista, London, 1969, p.53, who adds "it is a sign of the novice that [he] uses a too-large typeface with insufficient leading"). Wider lines need more inter-line spacing ("leading"). Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 21:27
  • As the study I read only dealt with fixed width fonts and interline spacing was not adjustable, I believe that it was accurate and now somewhat dated, and that relying on the past masters to be a better solution, which brings us to the next question: how do we adjust the leading on a given ebook reader. But I still stand by my original answer, If you use a small font portrait will limit column width if you use a large font landscape will increase it.
    – hildred
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 21:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.