Touching annotations: A visual metaphor for navigation of annotation in digital documents

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes


Direct touch manipulation interactions with technology are now commonplace and significant interest is building around their use in the culture and heritage domain. Such interactions can give people the opportunity to explore materials and artefacts in ways that would otherwise be unavailable. These are often heavily annotated and can be linked to a large array of related digital content, thus enriching the experience for the user. Research has addressed issues of how to present digital documents and their related annotations but at present it is unclear what the optimal interaction approach to navigating these annotations in a touch display context might be. In this paper we investigate the role of two alternative approaches to support the navigation of annotations in digitised documents in the context of a touch interface. Through a control study we demonstrate that, whilst the navigation paradigm displays a significant interaction with the type of annotations task performed, there is no discernible advantage of using a natural visual metaphor for annotation in this context. This suggests that design of digital document annotation navigation tools should account for the context and navigation tasks being considered.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1103-1111
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2013


  • Affordance, Document navigation, Interaction techniques, Touch interaction, User study