How To Make Reading On A Computer Easier (and Faster)
How To Read Faster On A Computer Screen

How To Make Reading On A Computer Easier (and Faster)

How To Read Faster On A Computer Screen

Pacers help to make reading on a computer faster and easier. You can use the highlight feature or your mouse as a pacer to help guide your reading. If the pages you want to read are clustered and pose a challenge to your eyes, copy and paste them, then reformat to improve readability.

Using your hand as a guide is a fundamental speed-reading technique. However, reading on electronic devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, etc.) is not very practical, especially if the device has a touch screen. A better way to read on the computer screen involves using a reading technology called “rapid serial visual presentation” (RSVP). 

This post teaches you how to increase your reading speed when dealing with screens.

Read on for insights into the rapid serial visual technology and how it helps make your reading more efficient.

Reading on the screen & eye fatigue

One of the most important aspects to consider for reading on any type of electronic device is mitigating eye fatigue. There is nothing more unnatural to the human eye than staring at a glowing screen for hours on end.

Most tablets, phones, and computer monitors are pre-set with maxed-out settings geared toward high-resolution rich media such as graphics and video. So the first matter of business is adjusting your device settings so that they are optimized for the endeavor of reading. Simply decrease the brightness on your screen to as much as the room you are in allows. This will allow you to read with more comfort and for longer periods of time.

Certain e-reader screens have already been optimized for this no-glare reading experience (Kindle, Nook, etc.), so there isn’t always a need to turn down the brightness of the screen. These “e-ink” screens decrease eye fatigue and allow for a more comfortable reading experience than reading on a glowing screen.

How to read faster on a computer screen

There are several ways to read faster on your computer screen, such as reformatting pages that appear cluttered, using a pacer, and more. These methods make the fonts appear clearer and easier to read. 

Reformat pages that pose a challenge to your eyes

Some pages may appear cluttered and difficult to read. Such pages can slow down your reading speed, but there’s a workaround. Instead of skipping it, copy the cluttered text and paste it into your text editor or word processor. 

Once done, you can then reformat the text and make it easier to read. There are many ways to reformat and make texts more readable. You can adjust line spacing and eliminate any distracting links and images. 

Also, you can use fonts that are consistent in appearance and size. Once everything looks good, you can speed read the page like you would if it were a page in a book. It might seem like a lot of work, but reformatting is the way to go if you can’t find equally good information with a better presentation on another site.

Use pacers

Another way to boost your speed when reading on screen is by using software and hardware features such as pacers. When dealing with printed text, a pacer could be your finger, a card, or your entire hand. It is anything used to guide your eyes across and down the lines of text.  

Pacers are important for many reasons. They guide your reading allowing your eyes to move in the same direction as the pacers. You’ll stay focused as your eyes will move when and where you want them to go. 

Going astray when reading is almost impossible with pacers, and moving on to the next line when required is easy. All these contribute to increasing your reading speed. It is also easier to stay alert when using pacers as they require you to use other body parts.

Use the highlight feature as a pacer

You’ll find that some documents have a word processing tool with a highlighting feature. This highlighting feature can serve as a pacer. To use it, all you need to do is click the cursor where you want to start reading and drag it down as you read to highlight the areas you’ve read.

On completing a section, release the mouse and clear the highlighted area. Take the cursor to your next starting point and repeat the process. Keep going until you finish the whole text 

You must be careful not to click delete while using the highlighting method. It is best to use it when your text editor or word processor is in Read Only mode. Also, you can use the “Undo” feature should you accidentally delete a block of text.

Use the mouse as a pacer

The mouse is even easier to use as a pacer. You only need to move up and down your document with the mouse button or scroll wheel at a convenient pace. If you own one of those mice with an automatic scroll button, you won’t have to touch it. 

In this case, just set the speed and put your mouse on auto-pilot mode. Now, all you have to do is sit back and read. 

How to make the computer read to you

Whether you use a Windows or a Mac, your PC can read to you if you set up the speech tool. And you can do it with the instructions below. 

How to make Word read to you on Windows

For Windows users, you can make Word read to you with the steps below.

Step 1: Open the document you want to read.

Step 2: Drag the cursor to where you want the Word reader to start.

Step 3: Go to Review and click Speech, and then Read Aloud.

Once done, the narration will start. Otherwise, click on the Play button in the upper right of the window. You may also customize the speech output using the Speak panel.

How to make Word read to you on Mac

Your Mac can also read from a Word file. Here’s how to make it happen:

Step 1: Open the Word document you want to read.

Step 2: Drag the cursor to the point where you want the reading to start.

Step 3: Go to Review and click on Speech and on Read Aloud.

You’ll find the playback controls and settings button in a floating on-screen widget. 

How to get Windows to read to you

Windows can read to you thanks to the native screen tool called the Narrator. You can find the Narrator by using a Cortana search. Or by accessing the Ease of Access tools in the Start menu.

If it’s your first time using the Narrator, Windows will walk you through a 13-stage setup process. During the setup, you’ll be able to customize how the Narrator works. You can customize voice settings, startup settings, and custom commands.

Once the Narrator is running, press the Ctrl + Windows + Enter keys to toggle it on and off.

How to get your Mac to read to you

Your Mac can read the on-screen text if you follow these steps:

Step 1: Go to the Accessibility Tools menu and locate the Speech tool

Step 2: Start the tool by clicking Apple > System Preferences > Accessibility > Speech

You’ll find options for various speaking voices at the top of the window. Also, you’ll find settings for system/app announcements, speaking speed, and other forms of reading aloud.

What is RSVP speed reading?

Rapid Serial Visual Presentation is an experimental model used to check the temporal characteristics of attention. Participants get to look at a visual presentation of items at a particular speed in a single focal point. Words of a text appear on the screen one after the other or in groups of two or three.

The technique depends on how fast your eyes can receive and process information while focusing on a particular spot on the screen. All the reader has to do is wait for the words to appear. According to research, people who use RSVP can boost their reading speed by up to 33%. 

The technique is more effective with shorter texts. That’s because processing plenty of texts is easier if you can pause and make reference to a previous section before continuing. 

At Iris Reading, we’ve developed a tool that utilizes RSVP technology to help you read faster on the computer screen. We call it AccelaReader, and you can access it for free at

Here’s how AccelaReader works:

  1. You copy and paste the text into the application.
  2. Set a reading speed (wpm) that you’re comfortable with.
  3. Set how many words you want flashing on the screen at a time.
  4. Press the play button, and the words will flash on the screen at the speed you set.

AccelaReader’s RSVP technology allows the user to read at an increased reading rate. The average reader reads about 20 percent slower on the computer screen. But research has shown that using RSVP-style reading leads to increased reading rates and better comprehension.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that readers could read up to 720 words per minute using RSVP-style reading, and researchers at Wichita State University found an 82% increase in words comprehended per minute with the user of RSVP reading.

There is also evidence suggesting that RSVP reading helps those suffering from dyslexia. RSVP decreases confusion by helping the person maintain the correct order of a sentence with its one word at a time format.

AccelaReader can be used as a productivity tool for those that do most of their reading on electronic devices. Additionally, AccelaReader can be used as a training tool to improve your reading speed and comprehension.

AccelaReader is a flexible tool with robust settings that allow you to optimize your reading experience. Here are some advanced settings you may find helpful:

  • You can choose how many words you want blinking on the screen.
  • You can change the settings so that words that convey no meaning are skipped (i.e., the, a, an).
  • You can modify the settings to allow keyboard shortcuts.
  • You can make the application make a subtle pause at the end of paragraphs or sentences.
  • You can change the settings to slow down on longer paragraphs and speed up through shorter paragraphs.

If you’re doing most of your reading on the computer screen, you’ll definitely want to use AccelaReader as a tool to save yourself time. The application is available for free at


The rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) is a method of displaying information in which text is flashed on the screen at a speed that you set. It helps you boost your reading rate and has benefits for dyslexia.

Other ways to make on-screen reading faster include the use of pacers such as the highlight feature and the mouse. You can also reformat any text that poses a challenge to your eyes. But this method is only recommended when there aren’t any other relevant resources with a more readable format.

Iris Reading has many resources to help improve your reading. Register today and learn from an expert.

Take our Speed Reading Foundation course.

Paul Nowak

Paul is the founder of Iris Reading, the largest provider of speed-reading and memory courses. His workshops have been taught to thousands of students and professionals worldwide at institutions that include: NASA, Google, HSBC and many Fortune 500 companies.

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