Want to Retain Information Better? Print it Before Reading.

The average adult now spends 8 hours a day in front of a screen – whether that’s a computer screen at work, the tv, or their smartphone – so it’s safe to say that we read a huge amount of information on non-printed media. But a recent study from TwoSides has shown that people retain or use information far better if they initially read it on paper.

84% of people surveyed believe that they understand and can retain information better when they read it on paper, and only 31% think that mobiles and smart phones are useful for reading and memorising information.

The survey asked 500 UK and 1,000 US consumers about a range of issues related to the switch from paper-based to digital media and their own experiences with both. The results have huge implications for people distributing information, marketing messages, educational texts, or any other items that they want people to understand and remember.

What Did They Find?

The survey has a range of findings, including that:

  • 79% of people were most relaxed when reading print on paper
  • 83% of people stated a clear preference for reading complicated documents on paper
  • 21% of people said they were ‘easily distracted’ when reading from paper – this rose to 65% for people reading on mobiles
  • A huge number of people print out important documents to read because:
    • 72% think that printed documents are easier to read
    • 49% think that printed documents are more secure
    • 53% think that printed documents are better for storage and archiving
  • Almost 50% of people still get paper bills for financial services
  • 54% of people pay more attention to advertising when reading magazines in print

Ultimately, when given a choice, 78% of people prefer to read in print, on paper. That’s especially true when people are reading important information that they want to understand in full, but even when they’re simply reading for leisure.

At Mode, we’ve always understood the importance of print and being able to read paper copies of information in addition to items on screen. However it is interesting to see this information in the age of multi-screening and statements like ‘Print is Dead’. Print is truly at the heart of all good document management processes and every business that we work with.


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This post was written by Anwen Haynes1

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