Navigating Comics II: Constraints on the Reading Order of Comic Page Layouts

Neil Cohn*, Hannah Campbell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Although readers typically believe that comic page layouts should be read following the left to right and down Z-path' inherited from written language, several spatial arrangements can push readers to deviate from this order. These manipulations include separating panels from each other, overlapping one panel onto another, and using a long vertical panel to the right of a vertical column to block' a horizontal row. We asked participants to order empty panels in comic page layouts that manipulated these factors. All manipulations caused participants to deviate from the conventional Z-path, and this departure was modulated by incremental changes to spatial arrangements: The more layouts deviated from a grid, the less likely participants were to use the Z-path. Overall, these results reinforce that various constraints push comic readers to engage with panels in predictable ways, even when deviating from the traditional Z-path of written language. Copyright (c) 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-199
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • comics
  • layout
  • page layout
  • user design
  • cognitive science
  • psychology


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