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How is your reading speed?

Mark Edwards

Have you ever wondered why we prefer reading a printed document to one on a computer screen?

Part of the answer is we read more slowly from a computer screen than a printed page.

According to readingsoft.com, "Research shows that reading is around 25% slower from a computer screen than from paper."

An average person reads at 240 words per minute (wpm) for printed material and 200 wpm from a computer screen. For a good reader, the figures are 400 wpm for printed material and 300 wpm from a computer screen.

Our newsletter software counts the number of words in the articles and uses 200 and 300 wpm as the lower and upper bounds of reading speed to calculate our reading time estimate.

When we communicate with our clients via a document which most people will read online, we must remember it will take about 30% longer to read than a printed version.

The lesson from this is to make our online communications concise:

- Keep your emails brief and to the point.

- If you plan on sending a long and important client document as a PDF file (one read by Adobe Acrobat) you might also mail a printed copy.

I have acquired the good habit of reading over every communication before I press send or display it online. Not only does this catch some of the grammatical and other errors, it allows me to remove redundant text. This makes my communications smaller and more likely to be read.

We apply this same philosophy to All Things Considered in keeping our missives brief and to the point.

If you are interested in discovering your online reading speed, you can visit:


where you will find a test for your online reading speed and comprehension.

I considered myself a very fast reader, however, whilst I scored a well above average reading speed of 375 wpm with 100% comprehension, I was nowhere near the excellent category of 700 wpm. Looks like I should keep practising!

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