If you still think using your fingers to move across a page as you read is childish, then you are probably living in the 18th century and this should be a wake-up call for you. Have there been times you used your fingers to skim through pages of text in search of certain information? You see, what you didn’t know is that what you did is a good reading technique. It is called the use of a visual pacer and there are 5 effective ways to make use of it. Number 5 is a bonus. Read through to the end to find out.

A visual pacer is any tool such as a pencil, a marker, your finger, a card, or a mouse that you use to underline the words you’re reading. A visual pacer helps guide your eyes to focus as you read. There are 3 benefits of using a visual pacer.

  1. Using a visual pacer increases your reading speed because your eyes are attracted to motion. You would be surprised at how faster you will read with even more comprehension when you simply apply this technique.
  2. Using a visual pacer also introduces another one of your senses, the sense of touch, into the learning process. Much as your sense of smell and sense of taste are closely tied, your sense of sight and sense of touch are also very closely linked.
  3. Using a visual pacer greatly reduces regression. Regression, also known as back-skipping, is when your eyes go back over words they’ve already read. It is a bad reading habit. When you use a visual pacer to guide and focus your eyes when reading, you reduce your chances of going back and re-reading.

Now that you are aware of the benefits of using a visual pacer, let us get into the 5 effective means you can make it work for you.

Give your reading the finger

It’s simple. All you have to do is place a finger below a line of text and run it smoothly across the line as you read. When you’re done with that line, move your finger to begin at the next line. Also, remember to hold the material with your other hand as you do this. You can as well use your whole hand if you are not comfortable with just a finger.

Using your finger as a visual pacer

Make use of an object such as a pen or marker

It is the same as using your finger. All you have to do is move the object smoothly across the page as you read. Remember, the goal is to guide your eyes and keep it focused.

Using an object as a visual pacer

Make use of a card

This might be more technical than other techniques but if you are willing to reduce regression and increase your reading speed, then it is a good way to go. All you have to do is use a card to cover up the lines of text above the line that you’re currently reading.  As you move your eyes from left to right to begin reading, you drag the card down and over the text you just read as you continue advancing to each next line.  The card’s smooth edge helps keep eye movements smooth and helps improve reading speed. This technique prevents you from going back and re-reading.

Using a card as a visual pacer

Make use of your non-dominant hand

Resarchers have made it known that regardless of which hand you prefer, your preferred hand is hooked up to the opposite side of your brain. Your right hand is connected to your left brain, the side responsible for language, judgment and intellect. The left side is connected to your right brain, the source of creativity, perception and empathy. Since our hands are connected to our brains, we can stimulate our brains by stimulating our hands. The process utilizes brain plasticity, our brain’s ability to change at any age for better or worse.

On the basis of this research, using your non-dominant hand as a pacer will be more beneficial. If you are right handed, practice using your left hand as a pacer and vice versa.

Are you ready for no 5?

The ways I’ve mentioned above all work very well on paper and pages that lie flat on your desk.  But fingers, hands, plastic rulers and cards aren’t very effective when trying to read on screen.  So you have to use what’s available. 

Visual Pacer for a Screen

For a computer screen, using your mouse is a very good option. You can use this in two ways.

You can use the mouse button or scroll wheel to navigate up and down your document at whatever pace is comfortable for you.  If your mouse has an automatic scroll setting, you won’t even have to touch your mouse.  Simply set the speed and let your mouse loose on autopilot mode, moving your page along as you sit back and read.

The second way is to use your mouse, in the same manner, you’d use your card on a paper. All you have to do is use your mouse or the down arrow to scroll the page up until the first line of text you want to read appears at the top of your screen.  Then with your mouse still positioned on the down arrow on the scroll bar click the down arrow each time you’re ready to advance to the next line of text.

By doing this, you create a straight edge that helps guide your eyes in the same way a card guides your eyes when reading printed material.  But that’s not all.  By keeping the line of text you’re currently reading consistently at the top of your screen, the text that you’ve already read scrolls up and out of sight.  With already read text out of sight, your eyes won’t be tempted to go back and reread! This method also works well for a phone screen.

There you have it guys! Now, all you have to do is practice, practice, practice!