Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) File


This is a list of the most frequently asked questions and answers culled from the newsgroup comp.human-factors. It is a recommended reading to all those who wish to post to the group.

General Questions

What is "comp.human-factors"/ HCI about? (G-1)

I'm an undergraduate/ Masters/ PhD student at the University of Wherever, and I'm doing a project/research on _______. Does anyone out there know of any papers discussing _______? (G-2)

Where can I get online information on HCI/ Human Factors in Computing? (G-3)

I am new to this group. Could someone please recommend some good books? (G-4)

What are the general reference books (handbooks) for this field? (G-5)

At which schools can I study human factors? (G-6)

What are the journals/ conferences in this field? (G-7)

What mailing lists are out there related to this field? (G-8)

What are the professional organizations related to this field? (G-9)

Where can I find the book on ____ by ____? (G-10)

Where can I find the (email) address of _____? (G-11)

What are some related newsgroups? (G-12)

How many people read comp.human-factors? (G-13)

How do I design a user interface (UI)? (G-14)

Specific Questions

Where can I get the HCI Bibliography? (S-1)

I'm interested in ergonomic keyboards (split/ Dvorak/ chord/ one-handed/ etc.). Where can I get more info? (S-2)

How frequently should I take rest breaks when I'm typing? (S-3)

Where can I get design guidelines? (S-4)

How do I do a cost/ benefit analysis of usability? (S-5)

I'm looking for funny stories about users' experiences with computers...? (S-6)

How was the threshold of 7 items in short-term memory determined? (S-7)

What are the effects of fluorescent lighting in the office, especially when working around computers? (S-8)

Which screen colors look best/ produce the least eye strain? (S-9)

Is there some general rule for when to use modal vs non-modal dialog boxes? (S-10)

Why don't users read the manual when they have a problem? (S-11)

I'm writing a psychology experiment for the Macintosh. How can I get millisecond timing from the keyboard (or mouse)? (S-12)

How does the Macintosh do mouse tracking (C:D ratio)? (S-13)

What is the HILITES database? (S-14)

Why do many people still feel that computers are unpredictable and arbritrary, while others don't? (S-15)

How can I test my interface to see if it is arbitrary and unpredictable? (S-16)

Which technique is "better" for bringing forward a window: click-to-focus (a la Macintosh) or point-to-focus (a la SGI)? (S-17)

I'm designing an icon(s) for a programme that I wrote. Any tips? (S-18)

What's the going rate for Human Factors Contractors (upper and lower limit)? (S-19)

Does anyone out in the net world know of a graphical user interface design/management tools? (S-20)

I find it less stressful to read long passages of text on paper than on a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) display. Any idea why that is? (S-21)

Related FAQs

Typing Injury FAQ (R-1)

comp.groupware FAQ (R-2)

The platform-independent GUI (PIGUI) toolkit FAQ (R-3)


This FAQ file is written (in part) and maintained by Edgar Matias. Portions written by others are copyrighted by them, and are included here merely as an "extension" of the comp.human-factors newsgroup.

If you've written something that you would like added to the FAQ, send me mail to and if it's suitable, I'll add it and acknowledge you as the author. If I've included something you've written and you want it taken out of the FAQ, email me and I'll remove it. Comments, corrections, critiques, and suggestions are all welcome.

Thanks to all who contributed! Special thanks to Gary Perlman of Ohio State University for his detailed comments, and for putting together the wonderful HCI Bibliography. Thanks Gary!

Special thanks also to who was kind enough to clean up my HTML code, resulting in a much nicer looking (and functioning) FAQ. (If you're curious, the old one looked like this.)

In addition to the contributors, I would like to thank the following people for their comments and suggestions:

Dan Wallach <>
Steve Portigal <>
Rodney Fuller <>
Bill Hefley <>
Hans de Graaff <J.J.deGraaff@TWI.TUDelft.NL>
Anant Kartik Mithal <>
Catherine L. Kelley <>
Eric M Hermanson <zmonster@ATHENA.MIT.EDU>
Ira S. Winkler <>
Clark Quinn <>

Apologies to anyone I might have forgotten.

This comp.human-factors FAQ file was last updated November 5, 1995

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