I hate reading things online. I don’t mind (am not bothered by) reading short articles and emails, or a paragraph here and there from a blog post, but if the article is more than one or two pages long, I hit the “Print” button and read it the old-fashioned (out-of-date, no longer popular) way: on a piece of paper. And yes, this is probably bad for the environment (imagine all the trees I’m killing!), but I don’t think I’m the only person who hates reading a 20-page article by looking up at a computer screen at one’s desk.
Here’s the problem with my approach: Web pages have lots of things on them besides (other than, in addition to) the text I want to read. There are links, graphics, photos, menus – all things I don’t need to print out or even have on my screen in order to read the actual article. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to look at a web page and have just the actual text (words) of the article I wanted to read, without all of the other things on that page?
Now there is. It’s called Readability, a free web service that magically gets rid of (eliminates) everything on the web page but the words of the article you want to read. It’s an amazing service! I’ve been using it for about three months. Whenever I want to read something online or (more likely) print something out to read from a web page that doesn’t have a “printer-friendly” option (the ability to print out only the article, without all the extra stuff on the web page), I just click on a special link on my browser and the page appears with just the actual article. I can then read it online, print it, or email a link for that page to a friend.
How do you use this service? There is an excellent explanation in simple English here from Warren Ediger’s website for ESL students, SuccessfulEnglish.com. Take a look at how it works and an example of the magic Readability can perform.
One more thing: Readable means “able to be read,” or “something that can be read without difficulty.” Readability is technically the measurement of how easy something is to read, often expressed in school grade levels (for example, when we say something is at a “second-grade reading level”). While Readability won’t make the English easier to read, it will make it easier for your eyes to see what you want to see on the page.
P.S. Thanks to listener Pedro who told me about this service several months ago.