Moving on, I want to share with you some screen reading techniques I use to help read faster on screen.
The first method is reformatting pages that present a challenge to your eyes. When you find an online page that’s cluttered or difficult to read like the kind described previously, don’t skip it. Instead copy and paste it. With the page pasted into your word processor or text editor all you need to do is reformat the text until it’s easier to read. You can change fonts so they’re consistent in size and appearance. You can adjust line spacing and delete distracting images and links. And from there, you could print the page and speed read it like you’d speed read a page in a book.
Admittedly, that can be a lot of work and you may not want to go through all that trouble, especially when you can probably find equally good information on another site with better presentation.
Another useful speed reading method to help you read better on screen is to learn how to use different software and hardware features as pacers. A pacer is nothing more than a visual guide that readers can use to help guide their eyes across as well as down lines of text. In the printed world a pacer can be a card, or a finger, or even your entire hand.
Back when we relied on those really thick telephone directories and dictionaries, most of us used our fingers as we read down each column in search of a name or word. Some of us still use our fingers to help skim through pages of text in search of certain information. In these instances, our fingers are our pacers.
Using a pacer has many benefits. By guiding your reading, your eyes are forced into moving in the direction of the pacer. In other words, pacers force your eyes to focus when and where you want them to focus. With a pacer, it’s nearly impossible to lose your place on a page and it’s a lot easier to advance to each successive line. All of this helps increase reading speed. Since pacers involve using other parts of the body, it’s easier to stay alert while reading and that helps improve concentration, too.
This all works very well on paper and pages that lie flat on your desk. But fingers, hands, plastic rulers and cards aren’t very effective when trying to speed read on screen. So you have to use what’s available. And one of those things is highlighting.
If you’re reading a document using a word processing tool that has a highlight feature, you can use that feature as your pacer. Simply click your cursor at the point where you want to begin reading. Then drag your cursor down and across the page to continue highlighting the areas of the page as you read. When you’re finished with a section, release the mouse button and click to clear the highlighted area. Then move your cursor to the next section you want to read, and repeat the highlighting process. Continue this way until you’re through.
Although effective, the highlighting method could spell disaster if you inadvertently hit the delete key while highlighting a block of text. So only use this technique if your word processor or text editor has a Read Only mode. If it has an “Undo” feature you can use it if you accidentally modify a document in a way you didn’t mean to!
Something that’s even easier to use as an online pacer is your mouse. All you do is use the mouse button or scroll wheel to navigate up and down your document at whatever pace is comfortable for you. If your mouse has an automatic scroll setting, you won’t even have to touch your mouse. Simply set the speed and let your mouse loose on auto pilot mode, moving your page along as you sit back and read.
If you haven’t experimented with your mouse settings before, now might be a good time to try. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, find someone who’s more technically-inclined, explain what you’re trying to achieve, and then have some fun!
I have one more online pacer tip. But before I explain it I’ll explain the way it works on paper first.
When reading printed material, you can use a card to cover up the lines of text above the line that you’re currently reading. As you move your eyes from left to right to begin reading, you drag the card down and over the text you just read as you continue advancing to each next line. The card’s smooth edge helps keep eye movements smooth and helps improve reading speed.
It’s a really good pacer technique and you’ll be happy to know that you can accomplish this same type of line-by-line pacer movement using the top edge of your computer screen. And it’s really simple to do. All you do is use your mouse or the down arrow to scroll the page up until the first line of text you want to read appears at the top of your screen. Then with your mouse still positioned on the down arrow on the scroll bar click the down arrow each time you’re ready to advance to the next line of text.
What you’ve done in effect is created a straight edge that helps guide your eyes in the same way a card guides your eyes when reading printed material. But that’s not all. By keeping the line of text you’re currently reading consistently at the top of your screen, the text that you’ve already read scrolls up and out of sight. With already read text out of sight, your eyes won’t be tempted to go back and reread!
This is a great online speed reading method for anyone struggling with regression. It’s also very effective when the materials are relatively easy and when you’re just skimming a page.
Video Version of Post