How to Read

Multiple editions of the book are freely available to view online or download to various devices, to match the individual preferences of each reader.

  • Web edition: read online in most computer, tablet, and smartphone browsers
  • PDF edition: download and print your own copy
  • MOBI edition: download and send to your Amazon Kindle device[1]
  • ePUB edition: download and open in iBooks for Apple devices or load to Nook readers[2]
  • To come: an inexpensive paperback edition

A stable link (http://ontheline.trincoll.edu) always points to the current edition of the book. Past editions are archived and *will be* linked in the bibliography.

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On the home page of this book, click the Read button to begin the web edition, or jump to specific chapters in the table of contents, or freely download the ePUB/PDF/MOBI ebook editions.

Reading the web edition is recommended, as the book’s many digital elements—especially interactive maps and oral history videos—are best viewed in your computer or tablet browser. But all of the ebook and print editions also contain links and footnotes to direct readers to this online content.

To navigate the web edition, click the Read button on the home page, or jump to specific chapters in the table of contents. On each web page, navigation controls in the right sidebar allow readers to go to the next page, or the table of contents, or search any word or phrase in the book.

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Navigation controls in the sidebar of the web edition.

To open links in new tabs and keep your current page, try these tips:

  • Windows: Right-click on a link
  • Mac keyboard: Control click on a link
  • Mac trackpad: Two-finger click on a link (see also System Preference > Trackpad)
  • Most tablets and smartphones: Press and hold a link

By design, this book improves accessibility by avoiding links that automatically open in new tabs, which can disorient visually-impaired readers.

While the basic structure of the book remains the same, the web edition opens up new ways for readers to dig deeper into the story and explore the evidence. It includes these features:

Main narrative is designed to be read from beginning to end. The book is divided into several parts that contain chapters of narrative text and digital elements, typically around 2,000 to 3,000 words each.

The back of the book contains two additional sets of essays. How We Created On the Line describes the behind-the-scenes decisions, research methods, and web technologies used to build this open-access digital book. Teaching and Learning with On The Line describes how the book emerged while working with liberal arts undergraduates and community partners in metropolitan Hartford, and offers lesson ideas to help students of all ages delve into key questions and digital sources in this volume.

Digital evidence is embedded in the text, when relevant, to encourage readers to go directly to the source, examine it in context, and try out their own interpretations. This book features several data visualizations—interactive tables, charts, and maps—that invite readers to explore trends over time and zoom into neighborhood-level change. Many of these visualizations allow users to download the underlying data, and are built with open-source code, which anyone may copy and modify to create their own charts and maps. Additional types of digital evidence include scanned documents, oral history interviews, images, and videos.

Endnotes can be viewed two ways: hover over the marker in the main text to open a tool-tip quick view, or click the marker to jump to the full notes at the end of each chapter. Endnotes include links to digitized sources when available, with a preference for publicly accessible sources rather than items behind subscription paywalls. Furthermore, whenever external links appear in the main text, they are followed by endnotes with full source citations and web addresses, to guide readers of print editions and to guard against broken links in the future.

Bibliography lists key sources in the text, with direct links when available. Also, readers of the web edition may download references to their personal computers by using citation management tools, such as the free and open-source Zotero application[3]. See also How to Cite this book.

Comments encourage readers to publicly engage with the book, suggest revisions, share resources, connect with their personal experiences, and interact with a wider community. Readers can post general comments on the overall book, or specific comments on any web page with the open-source Hypothes.is annotation tool.[4] Constructive criticism is welcome but inappropriate comments will be removed. Learn more about How to Comment.

Full-text search of the book content is made possible by a search box in the top-right corner of each page in the web edition. Later, a traditional book index will be provided by the publisher.

Mobile-friendly and responsive web pages automatically resize to fit the reader’s digital device, from larger desktops and laptops to smaller tablets and smartphones.

Accessibility features in the web edition include buttons to increase the font size, and external links that open in the same browser tab, to avoid forcing visually-impaired readers into new tabs, which may disorient them.

Follow the progress of this book, via email updates or social media, by visiting the Contact the Author page.


  1. Amazon, "Send to Kindle," https://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle.
  2. Barking Rain Press, "How do I load an .epub file onto my Nook?" http://www.barkingrainpress.org/faqs/load-epub-nook/.
  3. Zotero reference management tool, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, http://www.zotero.org.
  4. Hypothesis web annotation tool, http://hypothes.is/.