Publication: Faster Document Navigation with Space-Filling Thumbnails

Scrolling is the standard way to navigate through many types of digital documents. However, moving more than a few pages can be slow because all scrolling techniques constrain visual search to only a small document region. To improve document navigation, we developed Space-Filling Thumbnails (SFT), an overview display that eliminates most scrolling. SFT provides two views: a standard page view for reading, and a thumbnail view that shows all pages. We tested SFT in three experiments that involved finding pages in documents. The first study (n=13) compared seven current scrolling techniques, and showed that SFT is significantly faster than the other methods. The second and third studies (n=32 and n=14) were detailed comparisons of SFT with thumbnail-enhanced scrollbars (TES), which performed well in the first experiment. SFT was faster than TES across all document types and lengths, particularly when tasks involved revisitation. In addition, SFT was strongly preferred by participants.





Andy Cockburn
University of Canterbury
Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan


Cockburn, A., Gutwin, C. 2006. Faster Document Navigation with Space-Filling Thumbnails. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1-10.


@inproceedings {cockburn,
author= {Andy Cockburn and Carl Gutwin},
title= {Faster Document Navigation with Space-Filling Thumbnails},
booktitle= {Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems},
year= {2006},
pages= {1-10}