Purpose The impact of different screen-based typography styles on individuals’ cognitive processing of information has not been given much consideration in the literature, though such differences would imply different learning outcomes. This study aims to enrich the current understanding of the impact of reading in single- and multiple-column types on students’ cognitive processing. Design/methodology/approach An electroencephalogram (EEG) was used to record and analyze the brain signals of 27 students while reading from single- and multiple- column layouts. Findings The results showed a significant difference in students’ cognitive load when reading text from different types of columns. All students exerted less processing efforts when text was presented in two-column format, thus experiencing less cognitive load. Originality/value Using EEG, this study examined the neural consequences of reading in single- and multiple-column types on cognitive load during reading. The findings can be used to enrich the current instructional design practices on how different typographical formats facilitate learners’ cognitive performance.
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