Young people ‘prefer to read on screen’ (BBC News)

WWW IconAn interesting article from the BBC commenting on a recent survey by the National Literary Trust on peoples reading habits. In short it appears the young people ‘prefer to read on screen’!

With the ubiquitous status of mobile devices such as smart-phones and tablets also with computers and other devices we are more likely to engage with written material through a digital medium, 52% express a preference to reading on screen as a posed to 32% preferring printed material.


See the full article here.

Open Dyslexic- Open source dyslexia friendly font

Logo for Open Dyslexic type faceOn the back of our recent shameless promotion the suggestions for resources which we might find useful have begun rolling in, this one here came from Luiza (Thanks loads) over in the universities Chemistry department. I have to admit I had never come across a dyslexic friendly font before but like all good ideas it seems such a simple and obvious concept now.

Well I’ve installed it and given it a quick trial run (writing this post) and have to admit it is easy on the eyes and I find that my gaze doesn’t jitter around the page anywhere near as much as it usually does.

I would recommend though that you have your line spacing (and possibly character spacing) a little more than you would normally as I found it looked just a little too cramped for my liking. An optical illusion created by the bolder base to each character.

Here is the link:

Have a go and please let us know in the comments bellow, I sure others would like to hear your thoughts.

Reading on screen fatigue

We’ve had some feedback asking for more detail on how to overcome reading on screen fatigue and put those headaches at bay. If you are desk-bound, take a look at my top tips.

Working environments

However, most of the physical and health problems associated with on screen reading often come from expecting too much from yourself – we are not infallible and sometimes adjusting our own practice and working environments can make a huge difference. Take a look at the display screen use guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive, or if you are in a medium-large organisation (including colleges and universities), you will have an on-site health and safety officer who will help you assess your current working environment and suggest improvements.

The right device for reading

If you have to read a lot of long documents, then a desktop computer is not ideal. You are positioned in an odd way, reading off a vertical screen. You should look at other devices which are more suited to extended reading, for example tablets (Kindle Fire, Galaxy Tab, iPad) or e-ink readers (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader). Some research also suggests that using your desktop computer for different activities (e.g. reading and inputting) can increase your ‘cognitive load’ and it may be better to use one device for reading and another for reporting back/inputting so that you are not trying to multi-task too much on your computer screen.

Check our device guide for the pros and cons of different device types.

Useful e-Learning Resource (Recommended)

internet-web-browser-2As online resources go for e-Learning, they don’t come more comprehensive than this one. Paul Andrews is an e-Learning manager in the education sector and has developed an award winning website and online resource which you will find useful and goes way beyond the remit of this site.

I recommend that you take a look as I’m sure that you will find a lot of information that will be of interest to you.


Paul’s E-Learning

Just the text, Please!

plugin iconAs a dyslexic I regularly find that the rich media content of sites (primarily the advertisements) can become so visually over stimulated that I can’t keep a focus on the content I actually want to read, and I can imagine that you don’t need to be dyslexic to find them a distraction.

Well help is at hand in the form of a number of extensions and plug-ins for browsers which present the text on the page in a more visually neutral format. There are also a few plug-ins which read the content to you which have been included.

Check out the list bellow and hopefully you will find one to suit your reading style. If you also recommend any they we have missed off of the list please let us know and we’ll add it to the list.


Browser & Extension


Google Chrome  
Text Mode De-clutter the web by activating Text Mode. All pages load in text form (no images, animation or video) so content is easier to scan and read
Text Only, Please! Open any link in text-only mode, clearing the page of ads and other clutter
Clearly (recommended) With one click, Clearly makes blog posts and articles clean and easy to read. Clearly eliminates all distractions from your online reading experience, and even allows you to browse multi-page articles in one, seamless view.
Read Mode Puts Google Chrome into read mode for a pleasant reading experience.
SpeakIt! SpeakIt reads selected text using Text-to-Speech technology with language auto-detection. It can read text in more than 50 languages.
Clearly (recommended) With one click, Clearly makes blog posts and articles clean and easy to read. Clearly eliminates all distractions from your online reading experience, and even allows you to browse multi-page articles in one, seamless view.
Tranquility Tranquility removes unnecessary elements in a webpage, and provides a simple and tranquil reading experience.
Readable Readable transforms text on any website using fonts, colours, and layouts of your choosing.
Easy Read Easy Read blends links, making it easier to focus on and remember the great content while still having the option of following links if and when you want to
Blank Your Monitor + Easy Reading BYM: Changes colour combinations & ER provides a simple mechanism to isolate and highlight the text for easy reading.
Text to Voice TTS gives Firefox the power of speech. Select text, click the button on the bottom right of Firefox window and this add-on speaks the selected text for you. Audio is downloadable.


About the Reading On Screen site

New to the site? Download our quick guide first [PDF].

Who this site is for

  • Anyone spending lots of time reading on screen
  • Anyone looking to ditch pen and paper
  • Anyone wanting to know how to get the most out of their mobile device

What we offer

  • A ‘cheat-sheet’ to get you started: Reading On Screen Handout [PDF]
  • Helpful tips and tricks for different devices and documents (search at top)
  • Links to guides and videos

What you can do

  • Rate the pages that work for you
  • Comment with your feedback and suggest other resources we should link
  • Complete the form below to help with our research

We’re really pleased to launch this site available in direct response to student feedback at the University of York.

More than ever before, students have such a vast amount of digital literature available to them via the University Library and resources their teaching staff have posted on the Yorkshare VLE to support their studies.

We find that the techniques used for paper-based study are different from those required to engage with digital resources. What we have found from discussions with students is that these techniques are not taught, and are often unknown. Annotation, as one example, is a different process using digital devices than with pen and paper. At first, digital annotation may seem laborious, but, as with all things, practising the skill makes it easier. Similarly, the way documents are presented on screen can be improved with a few simple tricks such as using full-screen view or reading views built into software.

Our aim is to help students discover these tricks, tell us which ones work, and encourage comments and contributions with your suggestions and approaches to reading on screen.

Happy reading!

Matt Cornock
Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York

Blayn Parkinson
Elearning Development Team, University of York