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The contrast ratio of reflective bistable twisted nematic displays are optimized by means of a parameter space approach. By plotting the contrast ratio as a function of the twist angle and thickness-birefringence product of the display, the regions where the display shows the best contrast ratio are clearly shown. Both the absolute reflectance and wavelength dispersion of two bistable twisted states are investigated. It is confirmed that high contrast ratio of over 100 and reflectance of 100% with polarized light input are possible for such reflectance bistable displays. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.