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Tips on how to speed read

Illustration: Jason Lee/Wired

From Wired How-To Wiki

Illustration: Jason Lee/Wired

The ability to digest 1,200 words per minute is like a nerdy superpower. (Average mortals max out at 300.) We tapped Michael Tipper. speed-reading coach to the likes of Shell and IBM, for tips.

On your marks, get set. read!



Whether you realize it or not, your eyes are darting all over the page. Lead with your index finger or a pen.

Another method is to use a card or folded piece of paper and track your path by placing it above the line you're reading. This blocks the words after you've read them, urging you onward.

Experiment with different tracking patterns, too -- straight lines work great, but zig-zagging and hopping also come highly recommended by experts.


Most of us spend a quarter second on every word, but the brain can recognize letters in as little as 1/500 of a second.


You're probably saying each of these words in your head, creating major drag. The trick is to consume words in batches.


The website ZapReader spits out articles at 1-10 words at a time, at a rate you choose —- anywhere from 25 to 1,500 words per minute.


Every once in a while, take a reading speed test to find out your "words per minute" reading speed. Once your speed gets over 500 words per minute, you can start calling yourself a speed reader! There are free tests on the internet that will help you find out your reading speed. Try to find ones that test both your reading speed and your comprehension level, like this one here: reading speed & comprehension test.

In the Future

Content providers will continue to take cues from successful formats like Twitter feeds and RSS readers to get more text to readers fast. Check out our how-to on digesting the web like a Twitter feed. To improve your reading speed, replicate Twitter's uncluttered, distraction free environment by reading print versions of online content. Feed your favorite sites into a RSS news reader where you can quickly scan a column of headlines to find what interests you.

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