:"For the geological usage see:
Bouma sequence".:"For the football (soccer) player see: Wilfred Bouma".
The term bouma (pronounced IPA|/ˈboʊmə/, or approximately "bowmuh") is sometimes used in the work of
cognitive psychologyto mean the shapeof a cluster of letters, often a whole word.
Some typographers believe that, when reading, people can recognize words by deciphering boumas, not just individual letters. The claim is that this is a natural strategy for increasing reading efficiency. However, considerable study and experimentation by cognitive psychologists has led to their general acceptance of a different, and largely contradictory, theory:
parallel letterwise recognition.
The term "bouma" is a reduction of "Bouma-shape", which was probably first used in
Paul Saenger's 1997book "Space between Words: The Origins of Silent Reading", although Saenger himself attributes it to Insup & Maurice Martin Taylor. Its origin is in reference to hypotheses by a prominent vision researcher, H. Bouma, who studied the shapes and confusability of letters and letter strings.
Bouma, H. (1971). Visual Recognition of Isolated Lower-Case Letters. Vision Research, 11, 459-474.
* [http://www.microsoft.com/typography/ctfonts/WordRecognition.aspx Article on word recognition from Microsoft]
* [http://www.bouma.eu Bouma Trademarks]
* [http://www.magtypo.cz/download/TYPO_2005_13.pdf Issue #13 of TYPO magazine devoted to readability]
* [http://www.bouma.ca/bouma_of_word.html Data from an experiment by H. Bouma]
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