Recent developments on the optimal viewing position (OVP) effect suggest that it may be caused by the same factors that underlie the right visual field advantage in word recognition. This raises the question of the relationship between foveal and parafoveal word recognition. Three experiments are reported in which participants identified tachistoscopically presented words that were presented randomly in foveal and parafoveal vision. The results show that both the OVP effect and the right visual field advantage for word recognition are part of a larger extended OVP curve that has the shape of a Gaussian distribution with the mode shifted to the left of the center of the stimulus word. The shift of the distribution is a function of word length, but not of presentation duration; it is also slightly moderated by the information value of word beginning and word end.