In computer displays, filmmaking, television production, and other kinetic displays, scrolling is sliding text, images or video across a monitor or display, vertically or horizontally. "Scrolling", as such, does not change the layout of the text or pictures, but moves (pans or tilts) the user's view across what is apparently a larger image that is not wholly seen. A common television and movie special effect is to scroll credits, while leaving the background stationary. Scrolling may take place completely without user intervention (as in film credits) or, on an interactive device, be triggered by touchscreen or a keypress and continue without further intervention until a further user action, or be entirely controlled by input devices.

Scrolling may take place in discrete increments (perhaps one or a few lines of text at a time), or continuously (smooth scrolling). Frame rate is the speed at which an entire image is redisplayed. It is related to scrolling in that changes to text and image position can only happen as often as the image can be redisplayed. When frame rate is a limiting factor, one smooth scrolling technique is to blur images during movement that would otherwise appear to "jump".


  • Computing 1
    • Text 1.1
      • Demos 1.1.1
  • Film and television 2
  • Video games 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5


Scrolling is often carried out on a computer by the CPU or a graphics card. In a WIMP-style graphical user interface (GUI), user-controlled scrolling is carried out by manipulating a scrollbar with a mouse, or using keyboard shortcuts, often the arrow keys. Scrolling is often supported by text user interfaces and command line interfaces. Older computer terminals changed the entire contents of the display one screenful ("page") at a time; this paging mode requires fewer resources than scrolling. Scrolling displays often also support page mode. Typically certain keys or key combinations page up or down; on PC-compatible keyboards the page up and page down keys or the space bar are used; earlier computers often used control key combinations.[notes 1] Some computer mice have a scroll wheel, which scrolls the display, often vertically, when rolled; others have scroll balls or tilt wheels which allow both vertical and horizontal scrolling.

Some software supports other ways of scrolling. Adobe Reader has a mode identified by a small hand icon ("hand tool") on the document, which can then be dragged by clicking on it and moving the mouse as if sliding a large sheet of paper. When this feature is implemented on a touchscreen it is called kinetic scrolling. Touch-screens often use inertial scrolling, in which the scrolling motion of an object continues in a decaying fashion after release of the touch, simulating the appearance of an object with inertia. An early implementation of such behavior was in the "Star7" PDA of Sun Microsystems ca. 1991–1992.[1]

Scrolling can be controlled in other software-dependent ways by a PC mouse. Some scroll wheels can be pressed down, functioning like a button. Depending on the software, this allows both horizontal and vertical scrolling by dragging in the direction desired; when the mouse is moved to the original position, scrolling stops. A few scroll wheels can also be tilted, scrolling horizontally in one direction until released. On touchscreen devices, scrolling is a multi-touch gesture, done by swiping a finger on the screen vertically in the direction opposite to where the user wants to scroll to.

If any content is too wide to fit on a display, horizontal scrolling is required to view all of it. In applications such as graphics and spreadsheets there is often more content than can fit either the width or the height of the screen at a comfortable scale, and scrolling in both directions is necessary.


In languages written horizontally, such as most Western languages, text documents longer than will fit on the screen are often displayed wrapped and sized to fit the screen width, and scrolled vertically to bring desired content into view. It is possible to display lines too long to fit the display without wrapping, scrolling horizontally to view each entire line. However, this requires inconvenient constant line-by-line scrolling, while vertical scrolling is only needed after reading a full screenful.

Software such as word processors and web browsers normally uses word-wrapping to display as many words in a single line as will fit the width of the screen or window or, for text organised in columns, each column.


Scrolling texts, also referred to as scrolltexts or scrollers, played an important part in the birth of the computer demo culture. The software crackers often used their deep knowledge of computer platforms to transform the information that accompanied their releases into crack intros. The sole role of these intros was to scroll the text on the screen in an impressive way.[2]

Many scrollers were plain horizontal scrollers, but demo coders also paid a lot of attention to creating new and different types of scrolling. The characters could, for example, continuously alter their shape, take unusual flying paths or incorporate color effects such as raster bars. Sometimes it makes the text nearly unreadable.

Film and television

Scrolling is commonly used to display the credits at the end of films and television programs.

Scrolling is often used in the form of a news ticker towards the bottom of the picture for content such as television news, scrolling sideways across the screen.

Video games

In computer and video games, scrolling of a playing field allows the player to control an object in a large contiguous area. Early examples of this method include Taito's 1974 vertical-scrolling racing video game Speed Race,[3] Sega's 1976 forward-scrolling racing games Moto-Cross[4] (Fonz)[5] and Road Race,[6] and Super Bug.

Parallax scrolling, which was first featured in Moon Patrol, involves several semi-transparent layers, which scroll on top of each other at varying rates in order to give an early pseudo-3D illusion of depth.[7] Belt scrolling is a method used in side-scrolling beat 'em up games with a downward camera angle where players can move up and down in addition to left and right. A previously much used alternative to video game scrolling is the flip-screen method.


  1. ^ The widely used Wordstar word processor used the "diamond" of Ctrl-S/E/D/X to move the cursor left, up, right, and down, and Ctrl-R and Ctrl-C to page up and down.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Speed Race at the Killer List of Videogames
  4. ^ Moto-Cross at the Killer List of Videogames
  5. ^ Fonz at the Killer List of Videogames
  6. ^ Road Race at the Killer List of Videogames
  7. ^ "Gaming's Most Important Evolutions".