(Not sure if this is the right exchange for this kind of question, so feel free to transfer it somewhere else.)

I just recently rediscovered that I have the Beeline Reader extension installed in my browser and have used it to read through some longer texts on my laptop.

If you are not familiar with the concept, it works by highlighting the end of the current and the beginning of the next line in the same color. There is an example on the frontpage of their side so I won't go into detail.

My guess is that this kind of text presentation would be applicable to printed text too. Newspapers and books could be printed this way with no penalty on readability (there is even a grayscale mode).

Certainly it would be unusual to have text printed this way and there would be readers displeased with the aesthetics, but my guess is that most readers would be quite comfortable one accustomed.

To make this a hard question:

  • Have there been any experiments with using BeelineReading or similiar color highlightings in print?
  • If so, what was the impact on the users reading capabilities and how well did they get accustomed to the highlightings?
  • Just from my experience in dealing with printing houses, gradients are notoriously hard to do accurately without any banding. Also, with print variation tolerances, it's unlikely the print will be the same from one book, newspaper, etc. to the next, meaning that there is no consistent UX. Dec 15, 2014 at 15:19
  • Personally I've never liked the concept of the color gradients. I hold to pretty strict column-width guidelines myself, and I'm always surprised more developers don't do likewise. The one exception in my mind is the subtle grayscale gradient - this could easily be ignored by nitpickers but still have a (possibly*) positive reading experience. *Is it even documented that this works? I get the idea - I just don't know if it's any more effective than straight up reading.
    – Phil Tune
    Dec 17, 2014 at 18:33
  • @philtune not sure if it's the gradients that make reading easier ... but imho for many pages the reformatting alone is a godsend
    – fho
    Dec 19, 2014 at 9:42

1 Answer 1


As Arthur Harrison mentions gradients are difficult to get consistency in print.

Also with small type, using colours that are not a solid 100% colour mix (Say 100% opacity/fill Black) introduces a visible halftone dot unless the resolution of the printing is incredibly high. This could make it harder to read.

Traditionally newspapers/magazine have overcome the problem of losing what line you are on by using narrow column widths - http://www.magazinedesigning.com/columns-pt-2-line-lengths-and-column-width/

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