Reading unreadable online text

Matt Stauffer

InterVarsity, the organization I work for, has a web site full of extremely valuable resources, primarily in the form of articles. However, there are a few sections of the site that haven’t upgrade to the organization’s new web site design, and the articles there are formatted painfully poorly. It’s formatted so poorly, in fact, that I find it difficult to actually read the text online, and instead need to tweak the way it’s displayed in order to even view it at all.

Enter text formatting services like Clippable, Readability, and Instapaper. These services gather text from a variety of web sites (although they work best on traditional article-style pages) and format it in a pleasantly-readable style.

Clippable is a browser bookmarklet that does the work in-browser. It’s the simplest and quickest to set up; just follow the simple instructions on the page to drag the bookmarklet to your browser bookmarks bar.

Instapaper is a service that allows you to add articles to a “Read later” database, which you can later visit and read from. Instapaper also formats the article in an easy-to-read view, but the focus is more on reading later rather than now. The Instapaper apps for iOS aren’t free, but they’re cheap and a great way to make sure you’re never without something good to read.

Readability is a web service that is a combination of Clippable, Instapaper, and pay subscriptions. Their marketing is a bit confusing, as when they first came out it was a paid subscription, and now it’s free; but their videos currently describe a free service that allows you to both format the current page (like Clippable) or save it for later (like Instapaper.)

Finally, if you’re a geek like me and there’s one site that always bothers you, you can download browser extension Stylish to use CSS to format a particular web site’s appearance. Crank up the font size and the line height and you’ll be good to go.

By Matt Stauffer | Posted: Jan 19, 2012
Category: Miscellaneous | Permalink | Post a comment | Trackback URL.

2 Comments

  1. January 19, 2012, 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing these tools, Matt. I love being able to reformat quality content that is formatted poorly.

    I recently discovered that Instapaper has a text formatting tool to read instantly. You can find it toward the bottom of this page:
    http://www.instapaper.com/extras

    Reply
  2. January 20, 2012, 12:06 pm | Permalink

    love readability!

    Reply

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