Abstract This study investigates the cognitive abilities involved in hypertext learning and design approaches that can help users. We examined the effects of two types of high-level content organizers – a graphic spatial map and an alphabetical list – on readers’ memory for hypertext structure. In the control condition, a simple “home” page with no navigational aid was offered. Subjects were asked to read the hypertext with the purpose of learning the content, but in the post test phase they also had to recall the layout of nodes and links. Memory for links and page places varied as a function of condition. When a spatial map was available participants reconstructed more accurate formal structure then in the two other conditions. Participants’ memory about page places was the least accurate in the list condition. Results also indicate that participants use the content organizer when it is available in order to orientate during learning from hypertext documents. Our results prove that a content organizer showing the formal structure can facilitate the spatial mapping process. However, an organizer exposing a different structure than the real one would generate a conflict.