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Effects of Page Color on Reading Speed

The background color of a paper is significantly influential on an individual’s reading speed. This study is crucial because education has become a tool necessary to transform society and it is all rooted in one’s ability to read. In the current era, some varieties affect one’s ability to study, ranging from the environment, availability of learning material, and the background color of texts (Fugate & Franco, 2019). This study is important because it is one of the factors affecting one’s ability to study that has been less explored by researchers. This research is important because reading has become part of people’s lives as they constantly read articles from newspapers, social media, and textbooks, which depends on one’s interacting skills with these sources of information. This research is also important as it can help reveal whether background color could help learners with reading disabilities enhance their reading speed (Abd-Alhamid et al., 2019). This research desires to entirely explore on effect of page coloron on one’s reading rate.

This research’s questions were based on the fact that colors are used to identify symptoms in syntonic therapy as colors relate to individual emotions. The first question is, can warm colors cause a person to read faster than bright colors? In syntonic treatment, warm colors mostly evoke positive emotions while bright ones generate negative ones (Sánchez-Cano, 2021). Secondly, can colors be used as an intervention for learners with reading disabilities? The variables used in this research are participants’ reading speed and the page color on which passages have been printed. The participants’ reading speed is the dependent variable, while the page colors are the independent variable. The sampling method used to pick the participants was random sampling.


I conducted data collection from 31 New Vista School students to complete this project. I picked up two passages from the Houghton Mifflin Reading textbook for grade 6 student and printed them into 62 copies. The passages had the same length of 10 lines and difficulty of the same intensity. In these 62 copies, 31 copies of the first passage were printed on white paper. Thirty-one copies of the other passage were printed on light blue papers. I randomly picked students from different grades ranging from grade 5 to 7. The problem faced while picking the sample randomly, some students were not willing to participate, so I had to pick other students. To undertake this experiment, I gave a student one copy of white and one of light blue paper. I recorded the time a single student used to read each document and repeated the experimental method for the 30 students.


  1. Houghton Mifflin Reading Grade 6- English
  2. White printer
  3. Light blue printer
  4. Timer
  5. Pencils


  1. Two different comprehension passages, each having 1 line, were printed from Houghton Mifflin Reading Grade 6 textbook.
  2. One passage was printed on white 31 papers, and the other on 31 light blue papers.
  3. One participant to be texted was found.
  4. The participant was taken to a place with almost no distractions.
  5. The first passage printed on white paper was given to the participant and asked to read aloud at a pace with which they were comfortable.
  6. A timer was used to measure and record the time taken to complete the reading of the passage,
  7. Steps 3-7 were repeated with 30 more participants and for the light blue documents and recorded.


Time for Completion of Passage on A White Paper

Participant Time of completion of the passage Time of completion of a line
1 65 6.5
2 100 10
3 40 4
4 120 12
5 74 7.4
6 100 10
7 90 9
8 68 6.8
3 60 6
10 71 7.1
11 74 7.4
12 68 6.8
13 90 9
14 85 8.5
15 44 4.4
16 69 6.9
17 58 5.8
18 75 7.5
19 78 7.8
20 74 7.4
21 85 8.5
22 100 10
23 90 9
24 64 64
25 73 7.3
26 94 9.4
27 75 7.5
28 65 6.5
29 92 9.2
30 100 10
31 105 10.5

Time For Completion of Passage on Light Blue Paper

Participant Time of completion of the passage Time of completion of a line
1 70 7
2 113 11.3
3 50 5
4 138 13.8
5 77 7.7
6 120 12
7 100 10
8 79 7.9
9 67 6.7
10 73 7.3
11 67 6.7
12 70 7
13 110 11
14 95 9.5
15 49 4.9
16 75 7.5
17 60 6
18 82 8.2
19 88 8.8
20 80 8
21 100 10
22 102 10.2
23 96 9.6
24 64 6.4
25 73 7.3
26 93 93
27 85 8.5
28 69 6.9
29 91 9.1
30 112 11.2
31 124 12.4

Comparison of Reading Speed Per Line

  Page Color
Participant White Light blue
1 6.5 7
2 10 11.3
3 4 5
4 12 13.8
5 7.4 7.7
6 10 12
7 9 10
8 6.8 7.9
9 6 6.7
10 7.1 7.3
11 7.4 6.7
12 6.8 7
13 9 11
14 8.5 9.5
15 4.4 4.9
16 6.9 7.5
17 5.8 6
18 7.5 8.2
19 7.8 8.8
20 7.4 8
21 8.5 10
22 10 10.2
23 9 9.6
24 6.4 6.4
25 7.3 7.3
26 9.4 9.3
27 7.5 8.5
28 6.5 6.9
29 9.2 9.1
30 10 11.2
31 10.5 12.4
Average 7.89 8.62
Standard deviation 1.79 2.17

A graph of time against participants


This study shows that less time is spent on reading a white paper than it is spent reading on a light blue paper. This means that students read faster on white paper than on light blue paper. Considering that the passage given to students was of the same size and the same difficulty intensity, when all factors are kept constant, the background color of a paper influences the reading speed of individuals ((Abd-Alhamid et al., 2019). Time spent reading a passage on a white background line was less (7.89) than that spent reading passage lines on a light blue background (8.62). This result closely corelates to the theoretical knowledge that people read faster in the white background than colored backgrounds. Also, the shorter time spent reading white paper justifies that people feel more comfortable reading on it since most texts are usually written on white backgrounds. When some participants were asked why they were slow when reading on the light blue background, they answered that they were not used to seeing texts written on colored backgrounds. These results only prove that people will read slower on a colored background (Asher, 2017). The outcomes also correlate to the expectations that reading on a light blue background is slow because it is a calm color.

This uncertainty is because the dependent variations vary amongst the participating students. The mean and the standard deviation of the times spent reading a passage line cannot be the basis of accuracy determination. However, by comparing the standard deviation of the mean of the time spent to complete passage priinted on white on a light blue background, one can identify the effect of background color on the reading speed. The standard deviation is in the white paper (1.79) is lower than that of light blue paper (2.17). This difference means that the similarities in the participants’ responses on white paper more than the similarities in participants’ responses on the light blue response (Asher, 2017).

It is significant to realize that there were no overall trends in the participants’ responses to the varying color of reading pages. For example, participant 11 spent less time reading one line of the passage printed on light blue paper(6.7) than he finished reading a line on passage printed on white paper (7.4). This variance means that the effect of the color of paper on the reading speed of an individual is not the same for everybody. This variance could be due to different reasons (Fugate & Franco, 2019). For example, maybe participant 11 is being affected by the light blue background differently, unlike others that make them read slower. It could also mean that the passage printed on the light blue paper was easier for participant 11 to read than the passage printed on white paper.


I have noticed that white backgrounds greatly affect individual’s reading speed because of how frequently it is being used in the current era of technology, print, and education. It is a white color that people are used to in their daily interaction with information from various sources such as magazines, textbooks, and social media. Therefore, it can be concluded that most writings or printings are done on the white background simply because it is what people are used to. Also, people find colored background too bright for them, causing them to stress their eyes close to the paper hence squinting. Moreover, people find white background more appealing because they do not have to strain or hurt the eyes. Additionally, it is important to consider the relationship between reading paper color and the ability to read among learners with special needs, which vary due to various reasons. Factors such as cognitive pathways, sensory responsiveness, or visual information processing abilities may cause the varying preference for background color.


Some of the improvements that need to be made in future studies include the following. First, the trials of recording the response of participants should be more than twice. This will help ensure the consistency and accuracy of the trends of data. Secondly, the passage used to collect data should be given to participants according to their level of education (Clinton, 2019). Some of the responses may have been the way they are because the participant may not read. For example, since the passage was extracted from Houghton Mifflin Reading Grade 6, and participants were from grades 5 to 7, the participants from grade 5 may find it hard to read the grade six-book. Personally, this research may not be 100% accurate due to errors during data collection and analysis. However, I believe it perfectly expresses the general trend of the effects of background color on the reading speed of individuals. Therefore, since this research entails a wide range of variables, future studies should consider conducting many texts to ensure concussion (Clinton, 2019).


Abd-Alhamid, F., Kent, M., Bennett, C., Calautit, J., & Wu, Y. (2019). Developing an innovative method for visual perception evaluation in a physical-based virtual environment. Building and Environment162, 106278.

Asher, S. R. (2017). In Theoretical issues in reading comprehension (pp. 525-534). Topic interest and children’s reading comprehension. Routledge.

Clinton, V. (2019). Reading from paper compared to screens: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Journal of Research in Reading42(2), 288-325.

Franceschini, S., Trevisan, P., Ronconi, L., Bertoni, S., Colmar, S., Double, K., … & Gori, S. (2017). Action video games improve reading abilities and visual-to-auditory attentional shifting in English-speaking children with dyslexia. Scientific reports7(1), 1-12.

Franceschini, S., Trevisan, P., Ronconi, L., Bertoni, S., Colmar, S., Double, K., … & Gori, S. (2017). Action video games improve reading abilities and visual-to-auditory attentional shifting in English-speaking children with dyslexia. Scientific reports7(1), 1-12.

Fugate, J. M. B., & Franco, C. L. (2019). What color is your anger? Assessing color-emotion pairings in English speakers. Frontiers in psychology10, 206.

Sánchez-Cano, A. (2021). Photometric and Colorimetric Evaluation of Phototherapy Instruments for Syntonic Treatment of Visual Anomalies. Optometry and Vision Science: Official Publication of the American Academy of Optometry.

Appendix A

Study #3: Psychology Some people believe reading text printed on colored paper is easier than reading text on white paper. For this reason, disability services locations often provide colored filters that are clear to put over the top of books and imprinted pages. Irvine University, a public research institution with 30,000 undergraduate students, is considering providing colored filters for those people in disability services who would be helped by this tool. Irvine University randomly tested 31 students in their learning disability program during the first week of classes in Fall 2018. The students of varying ages, abilities, majors, and socioeconomic status were timed as they read a passage printed in black ink printed on white paper and then timed reading a similar passage printed with black ink on light blue-colored paper. Students were tested one day with a passage on white paper and then asked to willfully return the next day to read a similar but different passage of the same length and difficulty level on light blue-colored paper. Is there sufficient evidence to show that reading text on light blue-color paper is more effective? You are asked to organize and analyze this data and present your results to the university with a hypothesis test on whether or not there is a significant improvement in reading speed. Please suggest a report to Irvine University’s Disability Services directors that includes your data, results, and related evidence from national studies.

Light Blue Paper

(seconds taken to read the passage)

White Paper

(seconds taken to read an excerpt)

70 65
113 100
50 40
138 120
77 74
120 100
100 90
79 68
67 60
73 71
67 74
70 68
110 90
95 85
49 44
75 69
60 58
82 75
88 78
80 74
100 85
102 100
96 90
64 64
73 73
93 94
85 75
69 65
91 92
112 100
124 105


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