Reading during the composition of multi-sentence texts: an eye-movement study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Writers composing multi-sentence texts have immediate access to a visual representation of what they have written. Little is known about the detail of writers’ eye movements within this text during production. We describe two experiments in which competent adult writers’ eye movements were tracked while performing short expository writing tasks. These are contrasted with conditions in which participants read and evaluated researcher-provided texts. Writers spent a mean of around 13 % of their time looking back into their text. Initiation of these look-back sequences was strongly predicted by linguistically important boundaries in their ongoing production (e.g., writers were much more likely to look back immediately prior to starting a new sentence). 36 % of look-back sequences were associated with sustained reading and the remainder with less patterned forward and backward saccades between words (“hopping”). Fixation and gaze durations and the presence of word-length effects suggested lexical processing of fixated words in both reading and hopping sequences. Word frequency effects were not present when writers read their own text. Findings demonstrate the technical possibility and potential value of examining writers’ fixations within their just-written text. We suggest that these fixations do not serve solely, or even primarily, in monitoring for error, but play an important role in planning ongoing production.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
  • Psychology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalPsychological Research
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003), Department of Psychology (012010000)

Related projects

Åsa Wengelin, Roger Johansson & Victoria Johansson


Project: Research

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