The Ultimate Guide to Speed Reading: 70 Tips & Tricks

Posted June 8, 2010

Contrary to popular belief, speed reading is not a difficult skill to master. All you have to do is learn the important concepts, tips, and tricks. Here, we’ll explore 70 ways to improve your speed.

Selection & Timing

Get better control of what you read and when you read it.

  1. Go for big fonts: Big fonts are easier to speed read because it’s harder to skip lines accidentally.
  2. Make it more interesting: Approach reading as something interesting instead of a dreaded task.
  3. Set a time goal: Decide how fast you’d like to read and keep on track to push yourself.
  4. Put together a reading schedule: Find out a time of day when you’re alert and ready to read.
  5. Don’t read unnecessary items: Delete joke emails, catalogs, and newsletters to reduce your pile of reading to get through.
  6. Read correspondence once: Read correspondence right away and decide what to do about it so that you don’t have to go back over it again.
  7. Squeeze reading in: Get reading done in tiny increments, taking advantage of opportunities like doctor’s appointments and carpooling.
  8. Practice frequently: The more you read, the faster you will read.

Increasing Speed

These tips will help you read a bit speedier.

  1. Read in chunks: Read chunks of words and even full sentences to increase your speed.
  2. Think about reading faster: Simply think about reading faster to pick up the pace.
  3. Move down a central strip of text: Let your peripheral vision do the work by reading down the middle.
  4. Force yourself to read faster: You may miss some of the meaning at first, but if you force yourself to read faster, you’ll eventually improve your speed.
  5. Read from point to point: Look for important points and avoid the nonessential selections.
  6. Eliminate eye rests: Don’t let your eyes stop and rest on words as you read.
  7. Control your reading speed: Don’t just go faster-exercise control over your reading rate.
  8. Practice timed readings: Take time to evaluate your reading speed often to see your progress.
  9. Avoid subvocalizing: Subvocalizing, whether it’s all in your head or you’re moving your lips, will only slow you down.
  10. Double your pace: Time yourself at normal speed, then force yourself to read the next ten pages twice as fast without worrying about comprehension.
  11. Read only key words: Avoid words like a, the, and, but.
  12. Speed read every day: Work on your speed reading skills every day, or at least a few times a week.
  13. Skip unimportant parts: If a paragraph or word is not essential, forget about it.
  14. Move your pointer faster: If you move your pointer faster than you can read words inside your head, you can break yourself of subvocalizing.
  15. Don’t reread: Rereading slows you down and disrupts your brain’s flow.
  16. Use natural vision: Use natural vision to use your whole field of vision for reading.
  17. Skim first: Before you start reading, take a look and find key words, bold time, and headings to find the main idea of answer you’re looking for.
  18. Don’t pause for periods and commas: Read all the way through periods and commas instead of stopping.
  19. Have your eyes checked: You may be reading slowly because of a problem with your vision.

Pacing

These tips will help you with your pacing.

  1. Use a physical pacer: Make use of a note card, pen or finger to keep your eyes right on focus.
  2. Practice the hand technique: Keep an equal, gradual motion with your hand and follow it with your eyes.
  3. Train your eyes: Use free web apps like Spreeder to train your eyes to read quickly.
  4. Take breaks: Be sure to take a break every hour to let your mind refocus and digest the material.
  5. Try the finger technique: Make a fixation on 3-4 words with each bounce, two per line.
  6. Practice on dots: Use dots to train your eyes to move quickly.
  7. Read in a Z pattern: Read the first line normally, then sweep your eyes to the left until you get to line 3 and repeat down the page.
  8. Follow the sweep technique: Sweet your fingers from left to right to draw your eyes across the page.

Ideal Setting

Create the perfect setting for reading quickly.

  1. Reduce distractions: Read in a quiet space away from entertainment and people.
  2. Find a reading spot: Select a spot where you will not be interrupted or distracted.
  3. Sit comfortably: Sit in a comfortable position and relax to read your best.
  4. Read early in the day: For many people, the morning is mental prime time for reading.
  5. Use a lap pillow: Lap pillows offer an easy way to relieve reading tension.
  6. Avoid fidgeting: Nervous habits will reduce your concentration.
  7. Use reading glasses: You may need a little help, so try using reading glasses.
  8. Hold the book as flat as possible: Hold the book wide open so you can use your full vision.
  9. Relax: Relax to avoid tension that can interfere with your concentration.
  10. Use earplugs: Drown out distractions with the help of earplugs.
  11. Use a notepad: If important thoughts or ideas run through your head and distract you, be sure to keep a notepad handy so you can write them down and get back to reading.
  12. Put your phone on silent: Let your voicemail catch phone calls and answer back when you’re done reading.
  13. Hang a do not disturb sign: Make sure that others know you’re not to be interrupted by hanging a do not disturb sign.
  14. Make your reading environment comfortable: Regulate the temperature so that you’re not too hot or too cold.
  15. Test yourself: Use online speed reading tests to find out how fast you can read.

Comprehension & Quality

These tricks will help you improve your comprehension while you’re speed reading.

  1. Pay attention: Read as if it really matters and pay attention.
  2. Pause to reflect: Stop to think about what you’re reading for better comprehension.
  3. Visualize: Picture what you’re reading in your mind to visualize as you go along.
  4. Turn headings into questions: Turn headings into questions, and scan the text to answer those questions.
  5. Talk about what you’ve read: Synthesize the reading material by talking about it out loud.
  6. Dog-ear pages: Turn down important pages to return to them later.
  7. Summarize frequently: As you read, summarize the material.
  8. Blink often: When you blink, it helps your brain process information.
  9. Know why you’re reading: Be sure that you know your goal for reading material so that once you’ve read what you must, you can stop right away.
  10. Prioritize content: Identify the important parts and focus on those instead of unimportant information.
  11. Do something with the information: When you’re finished with the reading selection, summarize, answer questions, or draw an illustration to improve your long term recall.
  12. Test your comprehension: Take advantage of online speed reading comprehension tests to learn about your speed reading comprehension.
  13. Don’t forget to take breaks: Taking breaks will help you better process the information you’re reading.
  14. Don’t highlight: Highlighting is detrimental to your comprehension and especially your reading speed.
  15. Reread later if you must: If you don’t understand a selection, move on, but go back and review it later.
  16. Build your vocabulary: The more words you understand, the faster you will read.
  17. Remember the focus: Keep in mind the point of what you’re reading so that you can stay focused.
  18. Vary your rate: Keep your reading rate varied depending on the difficulty and type of writing you’re tackling.
  19. Preview material: Prepare for reading by looking it over to become familiar with it.
  20. Balance speed and comprehension: Be careful to maintain a quality balance of speed and comprehension so that your reading is efficient.

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