CHI '95 ProceedingsTopIndexes

The Tablet Newspaper: A Vision for the Future

Teresa Martin

Knight-Ridder Information Design Lab
1877 Broadway, #503, Boulder CO 80302
(303) 443-3312
FAX: (303) 443-9750



Electronic publishing, newspaper interface design, tablet, information appliance, information interface


The Table Newspaper: A Vision for the Future overviews tomorrow's portable information appliances and the ways in which we may interact with information. It explores the role a newspaper may have in the digital era and the form a newspaper may take as an electronic product.


The world is rapidly becoming digital and newspapers are evolving into electronic products. But computer-displayed newspapers have a number of limitations which will likely prevent their widespread acceptance. A solution to the display dilemma can be found in the rise of the tablet newspaper.

The tablet is a portable information appliance that weighs under two pounds and offers a resolution comparable to ink-on-paper. It can handle text, images, sound, and moving images. Some of that information takes the form of newspapers, while others may be books, magazines, financial statements, utility bills, or a host of other items that are today displayed on paper.

The tablet is not a personal computer as we know it today. The tablet is easy to use and requires no manual. It is not tethered to an electrical outlet. People use it to interact with information. Typical PC applications are word processors and spreadsheets, in short, data creation tools. Typical tablet applications are newspapers, books, and e-mail, in short, data use tools.

The Knight Ridder Information Design Lab is developing a newspaper interface for the tablet device. The tablet newspaper draws on the strengths of print and on the strengths of electronic forms. It is both browsable and searchable, both broad-reaching and customizable. It offers pages with story abstracts linked to more detailed stories, background material, photos, sound, and video. People can ran read as deeply or as casually as they want. Stories are no longer limited to "news hole," the space allotted to editorial content after press configurations and advertising have been considered.

The tablet newspaper includes editorial content and advertising, both important components of a local information package. Like editorial content, advertising can have many layers, and can be searched and sorted, as well as browsed. Additionally, ads can have transaction hooks, so that readers can make reservations or purchases.

Packaging and design are also important components of the IDL vision. The tablet has a vertical orientation, a form that has developed over thousands of years and has become optimized for displaying textual information. The tablet interface uses type sizes and styles as visual clues to what lies beyond. These visual clues are ones that we have all learned since childhood and are second nature to us. Branded identity is an important part of a newspaper product, and the tablet enables publications to keep their well-known look and feel.

An electronic newspaper, displayed on a tablet, is able to combine the best of the past, present, and future.