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Charles Butcher

The Reader function in Safari (now in the Windows version too, I gather) is brilliant. Just click a button to display good-sized black text on a clean white page. It's also clever at automatically assembling multi-page articles into a single page.

http://www.apple.com/safari/features.html and look for "Safari Reader".

You can print the Reader view too, so -- at least on a Mac -- it's easy to create a nice clean PDF.

Carol Saller

Charles, thanks for this! I believe there are downloads to facilitate this in other browsers as well. Much easier than copying and pasting.

Account Deleted

Thank you, Carol for your always useful tips!!
The memorizing of simple commands alone will make my online reading a lot smooother, I guess.

Louisa Burnham

I don't know if this is specifically Firefox or not, but if you just hit the space key while you're on a web page, it scrolls down for you. I love this!

Carol Saller

Louisa, that doesn't work for me in Firefox, but the down arrow is nearby, and that works.

Kari Geltemeyer

Readability is useful for other browsers, as well. No copy & paste necessary, you just drag the bookmarklet into your toolbar, then click it when you're at one of those experimental font sites. It renders a nice big legible black-on-white type-only page: http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/

Print Friendly does the same for easy printing—it strips out all the design elements from any site:

Trusty old Google reader is still my best daily reading ally, though. It cuts through the baloney in no time.

Carol Saller

Kari, thanks. Although I found Readability to be a bit glitchy in the past, I should try it again. Print Friendly is new to me. Worth a try!


Another vote for Readability. Along the same lines, if you have a smartphone or iPad, ReadItLater is wonderful, too.

I disapprove of the ad blocking suggestions; this explains why:


Carol Saller

Rianjs, I wish I could be as tolerant as you, but until anything-for-a-buck site owners learn to reject ads that startle and distract (not to mention offend) their readers, I think I'll stick with the blockers.

Maria LoCastro

I already have the web developer's toolbar for firefox, since it was useful for grabbing style sheets when I was doing web design. It lets you turn off various page elements, so if something's rendering a page hard to read I just disable it with the toolbar.

Eli Morris-Heft

Along with Ctrl + and Ctrl - to enlarge and reduce text onscreen, there is Ctrl 0, which will return the text to its normal size. Of course, s/Ctrl/Cmd/ for Macs.


A great add-on for Firefox is the Zoom Toolbar extension, which puts a little toolbar with magnifying glasses wherever you like in your browser. You get a +, -, and = all in the same little space and can just click on them to resize any page.

Dan Dalton

If you're using a Windows PC, and don't want to download a panic button, holding the Windows key and pressing the D key (just like any Ctrl-, Alt-, or Command- combo) will minimize all your windows and display your desktop. Pressing it again will restore all windows. I'm unsure if there's a similar function for Macs, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out there is.


Thank you for the tips. I am new to the blog and enjoy it very much. I have a question, though I am not sure this is the appropriate place to ask it. If I may, why "Online" in the title of this post instead of "On Line," and, in fact, in "Chicago Manual of Style Online?" I notice Merriam-Webster has done something similar for their on-line version. --Thank you!

Carol Saller

Thanks, Wade! Chicago follows Webster's 11th Collegiate if not stated otherwise in the Manual of Style, so "online" is their (and my) choice.

Valerie (Kyriosity)

"If your eyes are crossing from overdesigned type...."

A couple more ideas from me:

I find that CTRL+A usually works well for white-on-black text (or red-on-blue or other disastrous combinations) by simply creating an easier-to-read contrast.

And to avoid ugly fonts, I simply uninstall them. So go ahead and post all you want in Comic Sans...it'll show up as Trebuchet in my browsers!

Valerie (Kyriosity)

Oh, and if I may be so bold as to suggest a way online writers can make their readers happier, studies* show that whereas serif type is easier to read in print, sans-serif type is easier to read onscreen. If sans-serif is not to be borne, then choose a serif font designed for screen reading, such as Georgia.

*Which I shall be too lazy to hunt down and reference.


Reading online is fun as long as you can find what you are really searching. The fun part in online reading is that, you can read as many materials as you can without spending too much money. You don't need to keep on buying books if they are available online.

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