Do you know about Reader View?

glasses

 

I do a lot of reading, from books, e-readers and online, but the latter is my least favourite medium for a couple of reasons:

1: Ads

I block ads, not because I’m opposed to advertising per se — I realise they “monetise” a lot of the free content on the web — but I am opposed to winking, blinking, distracting ads that draw my eye away from what I’m reading. They’re like muted TVs in bars. You can’t help by be distracted by the flickering movement.

I’m not talking about reading brief snippets here. I’m talking about longer pieces, often serious, sometimes complex, interesting or just things you need to think about carefully. How anyone can imagine a reader’s experience is enhanced by, well, stuff like this …

annoying

… is beyond me. So I block them all at source with a browser add-on. (My current favourite is uBlock Origin.)

Here, for example, is a before fromĀ  a local news site …

stuff1

and after …stuff2

(Note that the “before” shot doesn’t show the zooming, panning, insistent horror of that car banner ad.)

 

2. Awkward text

The second off-putting thing about about online reading is that on my 24″ wide-screen monitor text is often spread from side to side. The head and eye movements required to read longer pieces is simply unnatural. I’ve been known to shrink the application window to facilitate more comfortable reading, and even cut, paste and print longer pieces to afford a more comfortable read. (Yes, Wikipedia this includes you.)

In the past I’ve used tools like Readability, but that became unnecessary last year when Firefox added Reader View to its URL bar. Chances are, you missed it entirely.

Reader View “strips away clutter like buttons, ads and background images, and changes the page’s text size, contrast and layout for better readability.” In short, it transforms the likes of this …

wiki1500px

into this …

wiki2-500px

Is that not 1,000% better?

You’ll find the Reader View’s icon on the right of the URL box …

ReaderView

Just click it to toggle it on and off. It’s just possibly the best thing for reading since the printing press!

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Test your text for flabby writing

WD-3

WritersDiet is a readability tool with a difference. Enter a text sample — from 100 to 1,000 words — and it will tell you whether your writing is flabby or fit. It bases this assessment on the number of verbs, nouns, prepositions, adjectives/adverbs and “is”, “this”, “that” and “there” words used, then graphs your result, rating it from Lean, Fit & Trim, through to Heart Attack.

Let’s try it out. Here’s the opening six paragraphs of one of my favourite books, Charles Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend, courtesy of the awesome Project Gutenberg:

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