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Studying on a screen

Setting up your computer for study

You can change the settings on your web browser or on your computer or device to make reading text on a screen more comfortable – for example changing the screen brightness, font or background colour or enlarging the font size.

Try the following links for some useful tips for changing these settings:

  • OU Computing Guide: Web browser accessibility

    OU computing guide advice on changing setting such as text size, colour and font on some of the most common web browsers.

  • My Computer My Way

    Provides guidance on changing the settings on multiple devices. You can search for a specific adjustment or filter adjustment by category based on your needs.

  • Diversity and Ability

    A helpful guide to several applications to help you study better on screen. Use the filter to see the applications that will be most helpful for you.

Quick tips for common settings 

Adjusting screen brightness 

The brightness of the screen can lead to eye fatigue. Try reducing the brightness setting of your screen as the day darkens – you need less brightness in artificial light than in daylight. Take frequent breaks from the screen to give your eyes a rest. 

How to control the type size 

If the text on a page feels cramped, the first thing to do is to increase the type size. This may be all that is needed to make text readable as the lines have fewer words and the larger type has larger line spacing. 

All common web browsers have the same command to zoom in and out to increase and decrease the page size and therefore the type size: Ctrl + (Cmd + on a Mac). Press this combination repeatedly to increase the size of the type in successive increments. If you go too far and want to reduce the size, use Ctrl - (Cmd - on a Mac). This can either be the minus key on the numeric keyboard or the hyphen key. 

You can also change the type size for all web pages that you open by adjusting the default settings in your browser, but you can still use the key combinations mentioned above to make it larger or smaller. 

If you’re reading using an e-book reader such as a Kindle or iBooks, look for the type controls that often look like AAA or sometimes just A. You can experiment there and set your preferred size and font as the default for all books if you wish. The same area may let you change the colour of the page and text. Try out the different combinations on offer; some of them are easier on the eye allowing you to read for longer with less eye fatigue. 

Adjust the page size 

When you open a window on your computer, you can resize it to best fit your needs. You can reduce the size of the window using the Restore down icon in the top right on a PC (top left on a Mac). You can then resize the window by dragging the sides and corners. Clicking the icon again will maximise the window to fill the whole screen. You might find a tall narrow window gives you lines that are an easier length to read. 

Try narrowing the window of this article. When you get past a certain point the page changes dramatically to a design that’s optimised for reading on a smaller screen. You can continue narrowing until the window is about the width of a smartphone screen and it’s still very legible. 

Reader mode 

Reader mode has become a standard web browser feature. Using reader mode reduces the clutter on a page that can distract from what you want to read. You'll be able to read more and for longer before fatigue sets in. 

Reader mode often allows you to change the colour of the background of the page and adjust the font size to something you find comfortable to read. 

If you’re reading material on your module website you might want to switch to “View as single page” (at the bottom of the left-hand column) which is similar to reader mode. You can still adjust the size of the text using the commands mentioned above. 

Search “Reader mode” for your chosen browser to find advice on what is available and how to turn it on. 

Further support 

The OU Computing Helpdesk can help if you are having difficulties with your module website, module software or other OU systems such as submitting a tutor marked assignment (TMA). They cannot, however, help with third party software. For more information see asking for help with IT.

If you have told us about, or now want to tell us and provide evidence of, a disability or health condition, you may be eligible to request adjustments such as assistive technology or printed materials. You can also contact the Disability Support team to discuss your needs.

Last updated 2 years ago