Understanding the best way to present information has been an issue of interest to many researchers. Regardless of the content of the information, purely physical elements such as spatial organization may also influence performance. Across two studies with 111 undergraduates (78 in Study 1 and 33 in Study 2), we compared spatially distributed (i.e. when information sources are presented side-by-side) against stacked displays (i.e. when information sources are sitting on top of one another with only the top source fully visible). A distributed display time advantage was consistently observed. As potential explanations, a memory strategy selection hypothesis was examined along with other procedural alternative explanations. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.