Guest post from David Cozy, professor, runner, reader and columnist, not in that order.
Readability does a few different things, but what I use it for is to get rid of the garbage that surrounds articles one finds on the web. Most on-line magazines, news sites, newspapers, and so on surround the content you want—the article—with lots of advertisements: noise that can be both ugly and distracting, and that can also cause you to use a lot more paper than you need if you print the article out. Readability offers you a way to, at the click of a mouse, get rid of all the garbage and get the article in a nicely laid-out page.
Readability needs to be downloaded. If you go to the Readability page you will be greeted with a screen that says “sign up.” If you sign up you get a couple extra capabilities like being able to send articles to your kindle and to save articles, but if you only want to clean up web pages you don’t need to sign up. Instead, scroll to the bottom and click download.
Once you’ve downloaded Readability and restarted your computer three little icons will appear at the top of your browser. The Read Now icon—it looks like a little book—is the one you want to clean up web pages.
It’s simple to use. You just go to the page with the article you want, click the little book, and Readability will convert the article into a nicely laid out ad-free version.
Readability works with all the major browsers. If you want to use it with more than one browser you’ll need to install it in each of them.
As far as I can tell, there’s only one downside to Readability, and that is that it doesn’t work with Japanese. If you’re using English articles with your classes, though, it will give you much cleaner versions than simply printing straight from the web pages where you found the articles.