Readability review

As Web sites have gotten more and more complex, many Web pages have become more and more difficult to read. Type is smaller, page layouts are getting more cluttered, and ads and other objects are breaking the flow of text. So I’m a big fan of programs and services that make the Web more readable.

Readability, a project of the Arc90 Lab, is a bookmarklet-based browser tool that reformats a Web page and presents the page’s text content in a plain, easy-to-read format. Inspired by Instapaper, the save-it-for-later-reading Web service, Readability lets you make almost any page more readable with a single click—or even a keyboard shortcut.

To set up Readability, first you go to the Readability Web page and choose your settings—you get four choices each for layout style, font size, and margin width; a live preview shows each setting in action. (My personal choices are Novel style, Large text, and Medium margins.) Then you drag the Readability bookmark from the right-hand side of the Web page into the Bookmarks Bar in your Web browser. That’s all there is to it.

rom that point on, whenever you’re viewing a page you want to make more readable, you simply click the Readability bookmarklet in your Bookmarks Bar; the page’s context is immediately transformed into clean, neatly formatted text. (If an article spans multiple pages, Readability will show only the content of the current page; to view the entire article, you should use the article’s “single-page” or “print” view, if available, and then use Readability.)

Want to get the original page back? Click your browser’s refresh button and the page is restored to its original appearance—you don’t have to use the Back button or worry about losing the URL. You can also print the “readable” version of the page, or email the original URL, via toolbar buttons to the left.

NEXT: Safari and Readability


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