How to improve readability of a website

Unfortunately, we can't all have 20/20 vision forever. If you find text difficult to read onscreen, then follow these readability tips.

The web page takes up more space than I can see on my screen. How can I look at the rest of it?

A web page often has more information than you can see on one screen. The page is anchored to the top left of your screen, so to see more you need to scroll downwards, and sometimes to the right as well.

You do this in the same way that you move around, say, a Word document. There is a scroll bar to the right and sometimes at the base of the web page. Place your cursor on the scroll bar, then click and drag to move the screen in the right direction. Press the arrow keys on your keyboard to move up and down the web page; these will also allow you to move right and left.


The text on websites is much too small for me to read

It’s simple to change the size and appearance of the text that appears on websites, and this will make it a lot easier to read. On most browsers, this is just a case of zooming in and out: hold down the Ctrl or Cmd key at the same time as pressing the + or – buttons.

On tablets and smartphones, you place your finger and thumb on the screen and move them in and out of a ‘pinch’ position. And if you want to set just the text to the size you need, you can do that too:

  • If you are using Internet Explorer, select an appropriate text size directly from the View option on the menu bar.
  • For Chrome, click on the three-lines icon next to the web address bar and select Settings, then Advanced settings and select a larger font size under Web Content.
  • In the Firefox Tools menu bar, go to Options, then Preferences, then Fonts and colours where you can specify the desired font size.
  • Mac users browsing with Safari can find similar controls in the menu bar at Safari: click on Preferences and then select Appearance.


I still find most websites too busy. I’m really just interested in the words.

Safari has a handy little feature called Reader—you will find it at the right-hand end of the address bar. Click on this and all the ads and other paraphernalia are stripped away—leaving you with a much cleaner, more readable page.

Other browsers don’t include this facility as standard, but in most cases you can download a similar ‘add-on’—an extra feature, which is sometimes called an extension or a plug-in—called Readability, which you can use in the same way.


That sounds really useful. How do I get Readability?

Go to the website and follow the instructions to download it to your browser. The site recognises which browser you are on, and automatically directs you to a compatible version of the software. You will also find it—and many others add-ons—at your browser’s online store.


I am looking at a website on my phone, but it doesn’t fit in the screen

These days most websites are set up so that they can easily be read on a smartphone or tablet as well as a computer—the web page adjusts to the size of your screen automatically. If you are finding the website impossible to view, then you are probably on the desktop site—that is, a page designed to be viewed on the wide screen of a computer rather than the narrow, upright rectangle of the phone.

There should be an option to switch to the specially configured mobile site somewhere on the page. Many popular websites Facebook, for example—offer a free app that you can download to your phone or tablet to make it easier to use the site. This is worth doing if it is one that you visit often from a mobile device—go into the app store on your mobile device to find it.


The text is far too small to read on my phone

Fortunately, modern-day smartphones come with preference settings where you can alter the size of display text across all apps, messaging and browsers. Simply go into your phone settings and, dependent on your phone type, go into 'Display' or 'Display and Brightness'. From here you can set the text at your preferred size.