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Reading from a screen

A lot of study and research material is online, and you will need to decide whether to print it out or read it from the screen.

You may prefer to print off some of your reading, for example, shorter journal articles and book chapters. When printing materials, you can use a technique called text mapping to improve your understanding of their contents. However, this isn’t a sustainable option for everything you want to read and you will find that you do a lot of reading online.

Here are some tips for reading from a screen.

Use different reading techniques

Use scanning and skimming reading techniques to familiarise yourself with the text before you read it more slowly and in detail.

Use software to customise your reading

At Leeds you can use accessible software to improve your experience of reading online material. For example, TextHelp Read & Write will convert text to speech, and provides coloured overlays to assist with screen reading. Another useful tool is the Immersive Reader in Microsoft Office 365. You can use it to customise your display, for example, changing background colours and altering spacing between letters and lines. It will also read documents aloud and change the playback speed.

Reduce distractions

You can reduce distractions on-screen by minimising other windows that are open.

It’s easy to get distracted when you’re looking at a screen for long periods of time. Further advice on avoiding procrastination and improving your concentration can be found on our time management webpages.

Reduce eye strain

Limit the strain on your eyes by changing the text font and size to make it easier to read - try adjusting text to 14 (Immersive Reader can help with this). Similarly, narrowing the window you are reading from, and using page up/page down will limit how much scrolling you need to do. This is much easier for your eyes.

Be aware of how different lighting affects your screen. If possible, use a small reading lamp rather than relying on overhead lighting, and avoid sitting with a window behind you.

Remember to take regular breaks from your screen. Try blinking more often to reduce the strain on your eyes and keep them hydrated.