Reading PDF-Only Publications: On-Screen or Printout?

My forthcoming work “The Structure of M&A Contracts” will be a PDF-only West publication. That raises an obvious question: will people be reading it on-screen, or will they read a printout?

If I get my wish-list, the PDF will contain hyperlinks to cited authorities, the text will be hyperlinked to the endnotes and vice-versa, and all cross-references will be hyperlinked. That would add a measure of convenience to on-screen reading.

On the other hand, the text sure won’t be light reading, and it will roll in at about 80 to 90 pages. I’m willing to credit that as a general matter reading something lengthy on-screen is more tiring and slower than reading the same thing in paper form and is likely to result in a more superficial understanding.

But there’s on-screen reading and on-screen reading. Reading something on an iPad is presumably more like reading it on paper than is sitting at a desk gazing at a monitor a foot away from your face.

The literature on reading on-screen versus reading paper is vast. Click here for just one item, a recent article in PCWorld.

So if you were to purchase “The Structure of M&A Contracts,” would you read it on-screen or would you read a printout? Take the handy poll below. How people are likely to read it may influence design of the PDF, although some of the design suggestions offered by D.C. Toedt are probably a bit too assertive for our needs. And if you have any suggestions, I’d be pleased to hear them.


About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.