Online Research Guide: How To Read Articles On The Internet

This article provides some hints on how to effectively read articles and papers on screen. Just because it is not a book, doesn't mean it should be uncomfortable.

As the Internet expands, an increasing number of authors are publishing articles, papers, essays, and books on-line. Many people complain that reading articles on the Internet is not the same as reading a good book. Well, this is true. Reading a paper on a computer screen is not the same as reading a book. But, just because something is different, it does not mean that it is bad. Internet publishing offers advantages over traditional forms of publishing. Ease of access and speed of access are a couple of such advantages.

Regardless of how we feel about Internet publishing, it is here to stay. So rather than resisting it, we should embrace it and try to establish some methods for effective Internet reading. This paper contains a few pointers on how to read articles on the web comfortably.

1) [Don't read the article while you are on-line.]

You should try, were ever possible, to save the article to your hard-drive and read it off-line. The first and foremost reason for making this suggestion is a matter of simple courtesy. If you are using a phone line at home, you don't want to tie it up unnecessarily -- other members of the household may want to make a phone call. Also, if you are paying for your Internet access, you don't want to waste money maintaining an unnecessary connection. If you download the article to your computer, you will free up the phone line, save money, and can take your time reading.

2) [Print it out.]

If you are having difficulty reading the article on-screen, try printing it out. If it is a short article, you do not have to worry too much about paper wastage, and you can take the article anywhere and read it anytime you like.

3) [Adjust your screen and display format.]

If you do not wish to print your article, you should attempt to make your screen display as comfortable as possible. Try to avoid bright, bold colors. They look nice for a while, but can be very hard on the eyes if you look at them constantly. For reading, it is best to stick to a traditional color scheme. Try a white (or light gray) background, with black (or dark blue) writing. You should also ensure that your screen contrast and brightness levels are not too high. High settings can give you a headache. Once you get your screen and display settings right, make sure that the room is brightly lit. Sitting in a dark room, staring at a computer screen can cause headaches, nausea, and even (in extreme cases) epileptic seizures.

4) [Change the article display size.]

Sometimes articles are badly formatted. There are some that use a small 10-point font, which spreads right across the screen. These are very hard to read, because your eyes have a difficult time staying focused on the right line of text. Of course, you do not want the font to be too big, because you will lose the flow of the text. There is a middle ground that seems to be most comfortable. Try adjusting the article so that the text size is 12 or 14-point. If the lines of text are too long, you can simply resize the window that the text is displayed in. Most software will adjust the text format to fit into the window as you resize it. If the program you are using doesn't do this, you can easily cut and paste the text into a program that does. The standard word processors are generally very good.

5) [Take breaks.]

So many people are aware of this advice, yet so many people ignore it. If you have saved the article to your hard-drive, there is no rush to read it. Taking frequent breaks is a good way to keep yourself fresh and focused on the material you are reading. Most articles and papers are broken down into sections, or paragraphs. Try to look away from you computer after reading each paragraph. This will give you a chance to reflect on what you have just read, and will keep you focused. After long sections of text, you should get up and walk around the house. Make a cup of coffee (not too often though), or get a glass of water. Then come back to your computer and read the next section. Taking short breaks makes a huge difference to your feeling of wellbeing and you ability to maintain focus.

Reading articles on the Internet can be an enriching experience. The Internet is a great tool that puts a world of information at your fingertips. Never before have people had such rapid access to such a large pool of knowledge. It is true that it is not the same as reading a book, but that is no reason to avoid it. By following the simple guidelines listed above, you can enjoy all the benefits of the Internet while minimizing the disadvantages. The Internet will become your key to the collective knowledge of humanity.

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