Detailed computational modelling of reading has been much pursued in the past twenty years, and several specific computational models of visual word recognition and reading aloud have been developed. These models offer computational accounts of many aspects of reading, but all have neglected the front end of the reading process, saying essentially nothing about how early visual processes operate during reading and little about how the nature of letter representations and how these are activated from print. This volume aims to begin to redress this neglect of the front end of the reading system. The first three articles address issues of letter perception: i.e. how letter representations are activated from their visual features. The remaining four articles address the nature of the letter representations themselves, from functional, developmental and neural perspectives. These articles introduce novel and interesting ways to investigate the very earliest stages of the reading process. The research reported here will stimulate future investigations of this highly tractable, yet long overlooked, area of reading research. In particular, it should assist attempts to develop computational models of reading to make more realistic proposals about the actual computations involved in the activation of letter representations from print.