How to study smarter on screen

Studying online can sometimes feel like an assault on the senses. A bombardment of fonts, features and multimedia content can make it harder to stay focussed, but there are a few quick things you can do to improve your screen reading experience.

If you find that you’re often losing your place and getting distracted, it can help to evaluate the format of the material you’re reading. One of the benefits of digital text is that you can manipulate your content at the click of a button, and with a few simple tweaks to change how the text looks, you may find that you read faster and take in information more effectively. 

Tip: To edit a PDF, change it to a Word doc first.

Change the font to a style you’re more comfortable with. Generally, san serif fonts such as Arial and Calibri are easier to read, but there are also specialist fonts, such as Open Dyslexic which have been designed specifically to support dyslexic readers.

Try changing the line spacing to 1.5 so that the text doesn’t feel too cramped and it’s easier to follow without jumping to the line above or below. It’s also worth making sure that text is left-aligned so that it’s easier to visually identify the end of each line.

Play around with different text and background colour combinations. A white background can often cause a glare that distracts from the text so a cream or pale-yellow background can be easier to read from.

Do you find it tricky to track text along a line? Consider increasing the size of the margins so that the text is narrower on the page and each line is therefore much shorter.

Once you’ve found a format that suits your needs, Word gives you the option to save your customised style in the toolbar to apply to future documents. 

If you are mainly reading online material, a browser extension that changes how text is displayed on websites may also be helpful. Try OpenDyslexic Font for Chrome (Chrome extension) or Mobile Dyslexic (Firefox add-on) to change all fonts on web pages to the OpenDyslexic font or Clearly and Mercury Reader (Chrome extensions) to remove ads and distractions from websites. Another option is BeeLine Reader (Chrome extension or Firefox add-on) which uses an eye-guiding colour gradient to pull your eyes from one line to the next.

And finally, give your eyes a break and enable the text-to-speech feature to have long passages of text read aloud to you. The language, voice and reading speed can all be set to suit your preferences.

By making a few small adjustments like these, you can study on screen more efficiently.

If you have a disability, long-term health condition, specific learning difficulty or mental health condition that affects your studies, you may be eligible for the Disabled Students’ Allowances. The package of support you receive is individually tailored to your specific needs and includes specialist software to help you reach your full academic potential. Find out if you are eligible for DSA funding here.

If you’d like advice or more information, get in touch and we’ll go through the options available to you.

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