We stare at a computer monitor for the bulk of our day, and reading long articles or books is rarely a comfortable experience. With that in mind, here are a few steps you can take to make your reading experience less terrible.
The key to getting your computer monitor into shape is partially about reducing eye-strain, but it's more about creating an environment that's more comfortable to read. Let's take a look at a few of the tools you can use, starting with some simple monitor calibration tweaks and moving onto browser extensions, web apps and a few other changes.
Calibrate Your Monitor Specifically For Reading
We've shown you how to calibrate your monitor for the best picture before, and a lot of the same ideas apply here. However, instead of pushing for a vibrant, bright image, we're going to tone it down as much as possible.
We won't be needing any fancy calibration tools here. Instead, we'll just use the built-in tools on Windows and Mac to make the screen a little warmer. For Windows, the display calibration is in Control Panel > Display, and in Mac OS, it's under System Preferences > Display.
- Run through the initial settings to adjust your basic setup, but pause when you get to the Set Basic Color Settings page in Windows or the Target White Point Adjustment on Mac OS.
- Drop the Color Temperature (Target White Point on Mac) into the yellow. This yellows the screen and provides a warmer look. For a lot of people, it also makes it easier to read for long periods of time.
Now your screen has a slightly warmer tone that makes it a little easier to read text on. For a lot of people, this makes reading long articles more comfortable, but to make it even better, we have to get rid of all the other junk on the screen.
Enhance Your Reader
One of the reasons reading on a computer is a pain is the amount of distractions on a single page. Trying to read a long article with a bunch of ads and a weird layout makes it hard to keep your attention on the article at hand. Here are a few ways to get rid of the clutter and enjoy a clean reading experience.
- iReader browser extension: The iReader extension for Chrome and Firefox drops all the clutter from a page and allows you to concentrate on what matters: reading. Click the iReader button and the extension pulls the text out of the page and gets rid of the ads and images.
- Bookmark services: Instapaper and Read it Later are great bookmarking services, but they also make the experience of reading long articles a lot easier. If you want a service that customises the look of the text and backgrounds, Evernote Clearly for Chrome and Firefox adds background and text colour options to make reading a better. You can change the text and background colour to fit whatever mood you prefer.
Remix Your Environment For Better Lighting
Lighting plays a big factor in your reading enjoyment whether you're reading a book or a computer monitor. While we typically can move around to seek out a good lamp when huddled up with a good book, the same can't be said about our monitors. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to make the lighting work to your advantage.
- Use a small table lamp instead of an overhead lamp while reading: Think about reading long articles or books on your computer the same way you do reading a book. Use smaller room lamps instead of overhead lights when you reading. Overhead lights are tough on your eyes and can make it difficult to focus on the screen. With a small lamp, it's often more comfortable to look at the screen.
- Avoid windows behind you: Obviously this can't be changed by everyone, but if you can, avoid having a window behind you. The bright light from the sun reflects off the screen and creates a glare. Simply adjust the angle or direction of your screen to correct for this a little. Without the glare, reading long chunks of text is easier.
Set Up an Adjustable Monitor Stand
One thing you may have caught yourself doing when reading is leaning into the screen when you're deep into a good chunk of text. We likely do this because we're used to reading books a lot closer to our faces than we sit to screens. It's possible to set up your monitor for this so you don't have to lean in every time. Here are a couple of different options to make this easy.
- Set up your monitor on a mount: Monitor mounts like this one are handy for a number of reasons. Not only do they make it so you can adjust your screen for for better ergonomics, they also make it so you can pull the monitor toward you and get a closer look at the screen when you need it.
- Create a rolling stand for your monitor: For a more DIY approach, you can put your monitor on wheels and roll it up to you when you need it. You don't have to spend a lot of money either, IKEA hackers shows how to do it with the incredibly cheap LACK tables by hiding wheels underneath the wood.
If you can't get comfortable you can always print pages out, or send your text over to an ereader or tablet with the bookmarking services mentioned above. But if you're stuck in front of the screen without other options, the above tricks can make the experience of reading on a computer monitor better. Do you have any tricks for reading long articles or books on a monitor? Share them in the comments below.