Both/and, not Either/or: Proving Print’s Relevance

Published by Gina Wentling | Topics: Associations, Blended Learning, Content Strategy, Fulfillment, Online Publishing, Print, Training

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iStock_000000145356XSmallNicole Shappert of The Digital Nirvana recently blogged on the American Forest & Paper Association’s report, “Documenting the Value of Paper.”

Schappert’s terrific read goes over five points on the value of paper over (or in addition to) digital content.

Paper helps you:

  • Learn more effectively – Paper beats electronic text when young students employed reading strategies. It follows that your learners may have a better experience with print, too.
  • Reach customers – People are more turned off by spam email messages and sidebar ads online than by print advertising. From catalogs to postcards, print still works.
  • Celebrate life’s milestones – Was your marriage certificate offered as a PDF? How about your son’s birth certificate? Official paper documents tell the story of your life as it happens.
  • Document and communicate – The world of electronic document sharing and storage are still new – and vulnerable. To avoid cybercrime and protect privacy, some people simply trust print.
  • Choose sustainability – The paper industry cares about the environment. From its use of sustainable forestry practices to its opposition to illegal logging, the paper industry truly is eco-conscious and responsible.

Another recent article, “The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screen” (Ferris Jabr, Scientific American), explores how the brain reads print content differently than digital. For example, studies show that readers bring less conscious thought and serious attention to reading on a screen. Retention also differs on screen. While some right-or-wrong, fill-in-the-blank answers are easily retained when reading digital content, more complex comprehension works best with a printed piece.

Clearly, even in this digital age, print holds value for us, and it likely always will. Online content offers several advantages, particularly in terms of timeliness and access, but these articles and conventional wisdom lead me to believe that there is a time and a place for both.

When do you prefer to use print? Reading old love letters? Studying for a particularly difficult or technical class? When is digital the right choice? Skimming through a magazine on your tablet? Catching up on that 450-page book on your e-reader during a cross-country flight?

Point is, your attendees all learn a little differently, and even in 2013, printed training materials are still a vital aspect of how we humans consume and retain information. Keep that in mind for your organization’s training programs.

We’d love to hear when and how you consume content. Post a comment or connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook!


About Gina Wentling

During her time as Marketing Communications Coordinator (2013-16), Gina wrote hundreds of blog posts for Omnipress. Her work has also been published in association publications. Read More.

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