Measurement of reading speed with standardized texts: a comparison of single sentences and paragraphs

  • Elke Karin AltpeterEmail author
  • Tobias Marx
  • Nhung Xuan Nguyen
  • Aline Naumann
  • Susanne Trauzettel-Klosinski



We examined the influence of text length (single sentence versus a paragraph of several sentences) on the repeatability of reading speed measurements in normal-sighted subjects.


We compared reading speeds for the German versions of the Radner charts (single sentences of 14 words each) and the International Reading Speed Texts (IReST) charts (paragraphs, on average 132 words) in 30 normal-sighted elderly subjects aged 51–81 years (mean 64.5 years ± 7.2 SD). Three texts each of both lengths were read aloud in random order. The influence of text length (single sentence or paragraph) and text sample (each single text) on reading speed was calculated by a regression model and Bland-Altman analysis.


Mean reading speed (words per minute) showed no significant difference for single sentences (170 wpm ± 33 SD) and paragraphs (167 wpm ±31 SD). Differences in reading speeds within one type of reading material were higher between single sentences than between paragraphs. Correlation coefficients between speeds were higher for paragraphs (r = 0.96-0.98) than for single sentences (r = 0.69-0.78). Variations between reading speeds for three texts of each length were markedly lower for paragraphs than for single sentences: (median, interquartile range [IQR]): 6.7, IQR 13.9; 3.0, IQR 8.3; −2.0, IQR 9.7 versus −8.8, IQR 29.6; 15.6, IQR 29.4; 22.7, IQR 19.4, respectively.


Since reading speeds assessed with paragraphs show lower variance among texts than those for single sentences, they are better suited for repeated measurements, especially for long-term monitoring of the course of reading performance and for assessing effects of interventions in subjects with reading disorders.


IReST chart Radner chart Reading speed Standardized reading charts 



We thank Manfred MacKeben, PhD, The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, San Francisco, CA, for helpful comments on the revision of the manuscript.

This study is part of the doctoral thesis by author Tobias Marx in German language (Vergleich zweier deutschsprachiger, standardisierter Lesetafeln zur Bestimmung der Lesegeschwindigkeit. Inaugural-Dissertation, Medizinische Fakultät, Universität Tübingen).

Conflict of interest

The authors Elke K. Altpeter, Tobias Marx, Nhung X. Nguyen, and Aline Naumann certify that they have NO affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements) or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

Susanne Trauzettel-Klosinski: The copyright for the International Reading Speed Texts (“IReST” © 2012) is owned by the University of Tuebingen, Germany. Part of the royalties go to the Vision Rehabilitation Research Unit at the Center of Ophthalmology, University of Tuebingen. She has no personal financial interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elke Karin Altpeter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tobias Marx
    • 2
  • Nhung Xuan Nguyen
    • 1
  • Aline Naumann
    • 3
  • Susanne Trauzettel-Klosinski
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Ophthalmology, Low Vision ClinicUniversity of TuebingenTuebingenGermany
  2. 2.Centre for Ophthalmology, Vision Rehabilitation Research UnitUniversity of TuebingenTuebingenGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Clinical Epidemiology and Applied BiometryUniversity of TuebingenTuebingenGermany

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