Speed read with ZAP Reader

Interruptions and distractions can make reading long articles on the web a time-consuming task, so I was intrigued to come across ZAP Reader, a site that outputs text by flashing words one at a time at whatever rate you choose. The default is 300 words per minute, which I find a bit slow. (According to this test, that’s about the speed I naturally read web pages.) At 375 I can still keep up and understand what I’m reading; 400 seems doable with a little practice.

The reader works because it forces you to stop subvocalizing words and ignore incoming distractions, and because most of the time you can miss a few words and still comprehend meaning. It’s not a service you’d want to use all the time, but for when you just want to mainline a lengthy, factual article, it’s a handy tool. Cut and paste to give it a try.

[Hat tip: David Tufte.]


  1. Barzelay says:

    That’s the death of written humor. Without author-directed pauses by way of paragraph breaks, commas, sentence endings, ellipses, etc., there’s no way the humor can come across. Oh well. 450 works fine for me, and I added a Greasemonkey extension that provides a Zap button on Wikipedia entries, since that’s the sort of the thing for which it would be helpful, I think.

  2. Jacob Grier says:

    Agreed. This isn’t something I’d use when I want to appreciate someone’s writing. But for a long news story when I just want to cram in the facts I find it pretty useful.

  3. Toby says:

    I love it!

  4. Dante says:

    Perfect match for online pubs like Economist, Atlantic, etc…

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