An Easier Way for Internet Reading

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post, but if the article is more than one or two pages long, I hit the “Print” button and read it the old-fashioned (out-of-date, no longer popular) way: on a piece of paper.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,  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.

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42 Responses to An Easier Way for Internet Reading

  1. Lanter Hermann says:

    Dear Jeff,
    Thank you for this excellent advice. “Readability” is exactly the tool that I was looking for a long time. Really good.
    Hermann Lanter

  2. Roberto says:

    Nice tool, no doubts but nothng compares the good old piece of paper.
    Reading on the paper is easier – we all learned to read that way. You can take that nice A4 sheet wherever you want (to your desk or in the restroom it does not matter), you can write on it, band it, curl it up, make an aeroplan or post it on the wall … and then, when you really don’t need it anymore, recycle it (save a tree!).
    Roberto – Tuscany

    Hey, the written captcha code below does not match the spoken one .. Mhmm.

  3. Tanita says:

    wow, nice prog, Jeff 🙂 didn’t know about it :))) Now I can use it 🙂
    But, you know… I always use my iPod Touch to read long text… It’s very handy 🙂

  4. Peter says:

    I really appreciate for the piece of info,but why bother Doc?

    You know what ,as long as the writing is legible ,I don’t care about the marginal graphs,chart ,pics ,and whatnot. Figuratively speaking ,sometimes they are good pit stops while you are reading your way down the article.But, It just I!
    Talk about the paper you waste!

    For the majority of cases, they are not in the way ,you can simply ignore them. It is so unlike you Doc. imagine the entire global as green belt ( conservation area).

    No intention to be goody goody ,but come on Doc, put more thoughts into this.

    Sorry ,Doc ,but I am kinda orthodox conservationist,a bit fanatic I mean.

    Peace out

    P.S. No mean to be disrespectful Doc, Just put down what I think is right!

  5. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff ,

    You are a mentor figure to me.



  6. Akiuki says:

    I agree it is a wonderful tool. It is a funny coincidence, David Pogue on his today Personal Tech Blog at NYTimes has mentioned this tool:

    quote: “* Readability. The Web experience has completely changed for me since I installed this free browser add-on. With one click, it reformats any Web article into what resembles a printed book page or a Kindle page, and it’s glorious. No ads, no blinking, no colored backgrounds, no white-on-black type, no tiny fonts. Read more here.”


  7. emiliano says:

    I have only words in Spanish to say what I feel about what this (jo… es genial) new Readability represents to me. Incredible good
    to read or to copy and paste, another point to Pedro and to you Jeff. Thank you so much.

    I hate reading in the screen too, but I read too much, and to select, copy and paste many times it was really very difficult.

    Again, “Jo… es una pasada”. Thank you so much, Jeff you are making my life easier just from this moment.

  8. Nathalie says:

    Thank you, it’s a wonderful tool !! I will send it to all of my friends !!

  9. Daniele says:

    Thank you! I did not know about it it looks great!

  10. Peter says:

    Keep it up guys , that is the spirit!

    We all chip in to save planet earth ,and Your contribution to the whole thing is exemplary.

    What earth’s ecosphere would do without you!

    Way to go,you guys are something

  11. Peter says:


    Guys put more though into the whole idea.

  12. Rolf says:

    I totally agree with Roberto. I too, prefer “on paper” to “online” or “on screen”.

  13. Clara says:

    After a little indecision even me, over the hill and inexpert at the computer, decide to download Readability. Now I’ve my toolbar and soon I’ll try to use it.
    Thank again Dr. Jeff

  14. Phuong says:

    I want to say thank to you and Pedro for this very useful tool. This is axactly what I need when I read on the internet. I didn’t know about this until I read your blog.

  15. Roberto says:

    …out of curiosity: is the “kinda orthodox conservationist” Peter the same Peter who says that Jeff is his mentor figure?
    just curiosity.

  16. emiliano says:

    Yes, paper is nicer and I like it very very much, I just like books by itself, the odour, the weight in your hands, the different kinds of paper, the emotions you feel when your are going to begin the last of your writer.
    So, by heart I am with Jeff and Roberto by all means, and If we go to the blblioteca and share the books others have read already, the damage about the trees is not so bad.
    So I think we need an open mind to both feelings, ebooks are quite a good idea and the use of Kindle is just a new experience, I like it too, but we are from the old generation and we love paper´s books till we die.
    Future is ahead soon, so enjoy paper books still now and don´t mind so many about inmediate consequences.
    Let the two kinds, electronic and paper books and newspaper survive as much as possible, please.
    Cars are much more poluting and kill more people that nearly anything in the world and the majority of the population are not willing to give them up.

  17. gregorex says:

    Yesterday I have added post on my forum about ad-on for Mozilla Firefox, that helps read foreign website. It’s called “BabelFish Instant Translation”. It is always helping me on ESLPod and is complementary to Lucy and Jeff 😉
    PS. It also works nice with Readability.

  18. Peter says:

    If you must know( very common) , the source of both comments are the same. The orthodox part conveys a non-resilient , rigit mindset towards the principle of protecting our Endangered environment.
    I didn’t mean any boorish comments, though.
    I see that my stern comments has stirred up some emotions.neverthless, I put my foot down, another words, stand by ( very common) the whole idea , on principle.hope you don’t mind!
    I am guessing, we are all along the same line that Lucy and Jeff are mentor figures to all of us, don’t we?

    Critical thinking is a virtue

    Peac out

  19. Peter says:

    “Everybody is entitled to their openion.”
    That is all there is to it my dear friends

  20. Peter says:

    there is another solution to it.a simple act of copy and past. You can copy the text, then, open a word document and paste the bare text there without all the bells and wisheles.
    You don’t need to go out of your way to use that thing.sorry , I can’t remember the name, it is too new age for me.
    No matter how long the article is, still it is doable

    It is easier that way , isn’t it? Besides you contribute to the greater cause which is saving our precious living environment, ” Planet earth.”

    Sorry, but I can’t get over it

  21. Roberto says:

    I wrote a lot more on this post so if you can see just one or two lines of text it’s because “Readability” removed all the rest 🙂
    Czesc, Roberto – Tuscany
    Hola Emiliano, que tal? I hope you are doing great! Ciao.

  22. Julio says:

    Very good new tool, even though I guess that newspapers won’t like very much it. Certainly, it makes easier to read a piece of news on the internet.
    Best regards from Spain,

  23. emiliano says:

    You know I don´t like too much sports, but today I was watching one on the TV. and Spain has won its second straight Davis Cup this evening by capturing its doubles match against the Czech Republic, and yes now I am very happy.
    Three to Cero till this evening, Nadal, Ferrero, Feliciano Lopez and the madrilenian Fernando Verdasco, it has been great and just now we have one of the best tenis team of our history, and may be also one of the world´s best at this moment. GUAUUU….

    Cuca likes tenis even much more than me and she was happy too because we have seen a hard and very good play from the Czechs and the Spaniards.

    Well this has nothing to do with the subject we were talking about but I want to share the good news with the friends.

    Toscana, Roberto? where exactly.
    So nice lands, I fall in love with the Toscana when I went to Italy, just with the fields, the land, but what about the few cities I could saw?.
    Of course the famous you may see going as a tourist, Florencia and Siena, may be one more but it was like a dream walking round and seeing so many incredible monuments and art.
    Always dreaming in going again, but too difficult now as you know Cuca is not so well to do such trip once more.

    Ora andiamo a più bene, grazie molto Roberto.

  24. Tania says:

    Hi ! Tomorrow is Saint Nicolae / the Saint of all children in my country . And this night at mid-night he will come with a present at every child .
    All children put their little boots waiting for Santa Claus .
    I am waiting for a present , too .

    A gift from me , a good thought for everyone of our blog friends .

    All the best for you all ,


  25. Tania says:

    Hi ! I like English Cafe 218 for more reasons . Many new words ( well , not even many ) , interesting and attractive presentation of the types of show .
    I understood the meaning of the word “weed” at last . For the first time , this summer , a weed-shop appeared in our town .
    I did not visit it , but I read in our local newspapers it was banned as it sold hallucinogen plants .


  26. Tania says:

    Hi ! But the most of all I like mountaineering . The Carpathian mountains from my country are very nice with a lot of bears and peaks up to 2,500 meters .
    It was my own ambition , it was my own dream to climb the “Omu” mountain (2,505 meters ) .
    I used the “telecabine ” for the first half from the route . But I reached the peak . It was an unique moment in my life .
    I don’t intend to climb again .

    All the best for you all ,


  27. Tania says:

    Hi ! With the global warming and the glacier melting we can climb by car the Everest peak (8,848 meters) .
    I think it is a metaphor to reach the Everest driving – to reach the highest peaks of the spirit .


  28. Roberto says:

    Hello Emiliano,
    Yes, I saw the highlights of the match. The Spanish team is really great and Nadal is super. Congratulations!
    I live in Massa (Massa Carrara), a town on the coast in the north of Tuscany.
    It’s not like Florence, Siena, Lucca or some small town like San Gimignano or Pienza which are beautifl, but we have the sea and the montains made of white marble 😉
    Hasta Luego

  29. peter says:

    Greeting season guys,

    Oh, it is very nice that we are still on the hot-buttton issue of turning planet earth into a barren planet.
    Call me crazy, but the transformation is in order( is happening) , and we as catalyst( helping a transition compelet at a faster pace)are doing a great job. Kudos to you guys on that. Don’t worry guys, with the pace we took , the cataclysm( destructive event) is imminent( about to happen).

  30. Tania says:

    Hi ! Congratulations for Davis Cup ! I am glad for you .


  31. emiliano says:

    When my parents went to Italy they carried and gave me a gift from their travel, the marble incredible Miguel Angel´s Pieta that is inside Saint Peter in The Vaticano Basilic, to me the most beautiful esculpture I have never seen once I saw it years after their trip.
    My mother past away some years ago, and now it´s a very precious little gift from her to us, that is supposed made with Carrara marble, but I don´t know because this kind of marble is very expensive.
    I have this Pieta always at sight near the Mac where I am writing now.
    Yes, I remember the mountains near Carrara as we went to Italy by bus from Madrid so far as Napoles. You can imagine how much kilometers we have to do, but the travel was incredible good with unforgettable experiences.
    Thank you Roberto and Tania, I feel a little sorry for the Czechs as the last result has been 5 – 0. Spanish team is like a hurricane now.

    Tania are you not afraid of meeting Dracula at the Carpathians?.
    The last novel I read about Him was “The Historian” of Elizabeth Kostova, in English of course, and I liked it very much.
    They went to the Carpathians following the clue of Him who is alive, of course, and the novel describes the Land very well.
    It has, the novel, a lot of History too, so you may read it if you want to. It´s not difficult in English.
    Your country has to be really very beautiful, that´s for sure.

  32. emiliano says:

    Sorry, sorry……I have ever seen once I saw it……….

    I am ashamed with my bad English.

  33. Filiz says:


    I used to listen ESL podcast couple of years ago. I again started listening and noticed the blog notes. I liked so much the idea. All the topics are full of useful information and in the end they open a discussion. It’s been a fun to read all the topics and the comments last few days.

    Thanks a lot for all the ESL staff and the members.

  34. peter says:

    Jeff and Lucy you are on fire

    Seems like Eslpod is soaring in popularity.Good for you. You deserve it!

    Indeed, you ushered in a new era,

    You have been going for 4 years ,sorry, I stand corrected, you are pushing 5 and still full of fresh and novel ideas.sorry my French Jeff , who the hell are you? You are amazing man!

    I belive , in your entire profesional life ,Just once you met your match I mean Lucy. You met your match and got her to be your partner. You Tactfully Eliminated your only rival , nice move man.(LOL) .Enjoy your rival-free ride that you touced the hearts of many on this ride.

    God Bless you bro that Eslpod is a blessing from the sky.

  35. Tania says:

    Hi ! A present , indeed … Thank you .


  36. Peter says:

    he heart of many

    me and my mistakes

    i must push myself to reviwe the draft at least once

  37. Marco says:

    Just writing down some thoughts …. :

    I’am probably one of (the) few/est who ‘likes’ reading everything on the Internet respective on his Home Computer Desktop. In general there is a generation-gap (as always), in this case between most of the young people (so called “digital natives”) and the older generation. Most of the teenager don’t have a problem to read, in the meaning of “find” and “identify” information on the internet.

    For young people, and the comming generations it is already very important to learn how to use and value the information, see: Media literacy.

    I’m also the kind of guy who likes Wikipedia very much and ebook-versions of hole literature (PDF).

    But I digress. Ask yourself if it’s the web-information you don’t like or just the way of presentation.

    Maybe you should try a bigger desktop at home – most of them can be fixed to a wall and spinned 90° from horizontal to veritcal. Or maybe try some of these new ebook-readers.

    PS: It took me, as a prospective computer scientist, about 5 minutes to get “Readability” to work. ; )

  38. emiliano says:

    Marco, just an information to you that sure you know already, but Amazon has a kindle to dowload ebooks to the p.c., a lot of ebooks and they are cheaper (very cheap indeed) that the paper one.
    The kindle to p.c. is free and you may have it soon and easily, only going to the Amazon website and giving your identification to dowload the books the kindle and may pay them.
    It´s really nice to read the books that way, nicer than by pdf of course and you may have the books you may desire by that way, if they have them.
    All the clasic for sure and very very cheap.
    Soon would be a kindle to Mac. and iphone too, so the ebooks are just here already.

    I have one in the p.c., and have the Charles Dickens complete novels by only 3 euros aprox. only., also some of Science Fiction that I love always.
    But now I want the Mac. kindle as soon as possible, and sure that I´ll try to read on the pc. or Mac very frecuently. It´s really necessary to the environment.
    If you see it and like, tell me please.

  39. Silvia says:

    Thanks Jeff for this great tool!


  40. bartleby says:

    Oh my gosh!

    Have you ever tried, jeff, just copy ONLY the text you want to read an paste it into the wordpad and then print it??

    remember: ctrl+c & ctrl+v makes your life easier, man!!!!

  41. Sathvik says:

    Thanks jeff!


  42. Edu says:

    I totally agree with Jeff. Reading on the computer isn’t good. I usually copy the text in to word to avoid excess of colours and advertisements which avoid me to read exactly what I want to.
    I’ll check the tool. Thanks for the suggestion.

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