Read Easier in Blackboard with Reader View

I’m a fan of browsing articles in Firefox’s Reader View. Reader View display’s the page’s main content without menus, ads, and other distractions. It works in Blackboard, too!

Turning on Reader View

To try Reader View in Firefox,

  1. Navigate to a course page with a lot of text, such as a lecture page.
  2. Find and click the Reader View icon on the right side of the address bar. It looks like a small open book.
  3. To leave Reader View, just click the icon again.

In addition to focusing on the page’s main content, a menu appears on the left side. If you click the “Aa” button, you could change the font, font size, margins, line spacing, and color scheme. I like the white color scheme, wide margins, single spacing, and large font size.

More Reader View Tools

Another powerful Reader View tool is called Narrate. Yes, Firefox can read that page to you! You can adjust the speed, pause, resume, and skip forward and backward.

Finally, Reader View lets you save articles to Pocket, an online service for bookmarking articles.

Limitations to Reader View

Reader View isn’t perfect. In particular, pages that include photos with captions may not distinguish the captions from regular text. While reading online articles in Reader View, I sometimes see sentences repeated, perhaps because of being used in pull-out quotes. And sometimes it seems that not all images in a page will be displayed in Reader View. But these are more likely to happen in, say, online magazine articles than in Blackboard. Finally, not every webpage supports Reader View.

Other Browsers

Fortunately, Firefox isn’t the only desktop browser to offer a reader view. On the desktop, these do, too:

  • Microsoft Edge
  • Apple Safari
  • ¬†Internet Explorer 11 (on Windows 8.1 only, as far as I know)

Although Google Chrome supports a simple reader view (called Distiller), it’s turned off by default. Turning it on takes some doing or an extension.

These mobile browsers offer a reader view:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Safari
  • Opera Mini

As of this writing, the reader views in these desktop and mobile browsers seem only to show page content without Narrate and saving-to-Pocket. You may be able to add more features to their reader views with extensions.


Reader View works not only in Blackboard but on many other web pages. You can tell by looking for the Reader View icon; it’s only displayed on pages that support it.

Firefox’s Reader View gives you three additional ways to enjoy a page’s content: formatting the text on the page, reading it aloud, and saving the page for later in Pocket. I love this flexibility and hope that other browsers will offer this functionality soon.

What do you think of Reader View?