If you struggling to take in information when reading, find that you frequently lose your place or inadvertently reread lines, it’s worth taking a few minutes to evaluate the formatting of the material you are reading. With a few simple tweaks to change how the text looks, you may find that you can improve your reading experience, helping you to read faster and take in information more effectively because you are not having to apply so much effort to visually following the text.

Here are some things to try (tip – with Office 365 you can open a pdf document directly in MS Word so that these changes can be made):

  • Change the font. Generally san serif fonts such as Arial and Calibri are easier to read, but there are also specialist fonts, such as Open Dyslexic which have been designed specifically to support dyslexic readers.
  • Change line spacing to 1.5 so that text doesn’t feel too cramped and its easier to follow a line of text without jumping to the one above or below.
  • Make sure text is left aligned so that it is easier to visually identify the end of each line.
  • Try different text and background colour combinations. A white background can often cause a glare which distracts from the text so a cream or pale yellow background can be easier to read from.
  • If you struggle with tracking text along a line, consider increasing the size of the margins so that the text is narrower on the page and each line is therefore much shorter.

If you are mainly reading online material, there are a few browser extensions which you could use that will let you make some of these changes to how text is displayed on websites:

  • OpenDyslexic Font for Chrome (Chrome extension) or Mobile Dyslexic (Firefox add-on) – changes all fonts on web pages to the OpenDyslexic font
  • Clearly and Mecury Reader (Chrome extensions) –  remove ads and distractions from websites, leaving only text and images for a clean and consistent reading view
  • BeeLine Reader (Chrome extension or Firefox add-on) – uses an eye-guiding colour gradient to pull your eyes from one line to the next
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