Everything You Need To Know About Word 2013 Read Mode

Microsoft Word 2013 comes with a completely new layout called the Read Mode. Previously, Word used to have very useful layouts for different situations. These included print-friendly layout and webpage layout, both tailored for printers and worldwide web viewing respectively. The Word 2013 Read Mode layout is especially targeted towards the modern digital world of tablets.

The Word 2013 Read Mode is just like responsive web design. It will adjust the document according to the screen size. This applies not only to the text but to the rich media content, too, like images, videos, tables etc. The document will scroll horizontally instead of vertically for better presentation on tablets.

Opening documents in Read Mode

First of all, let’s be very clear that read-only mode (protected mode) and the Word 2013 Read Mode are different from each other. The protected mode opens a document in read-only mode keeping security in mind, while read mode opens the document for better viewing.


By default, documents open in Read Mode. You can browse pages by using the arrow keys or by clicking the arrow buttons on the window. You can also use the mouse scroll key to go backward or forward. You can zoom in and zoom out of the document using the slider on the bottom right corner of the Word window. If you want to zoom in on a particular object like an image, double click the object.


Documents can be opened in Read Mode in three different ways.

1. You can click on the book icon (third icon) on the status bar of Word 2013 window.


2. The View tab in the Ribbon also includes a Read Mode button.


3. If you are comfortable with keyboard shortcuts, you can use the “Alt + W + F” keyboard shortcut to open a document in Read Mode.

Configuring Read Mode options

Since Read Mode does not permit the user to edit or change the document, the options are very limited and are mostly related to personalizing the interface for better viewing. Let’s go through the options.

Change the default opening of document in Read Mode

If you don’t like to always open documents in Read Mode, you can change this option by following the steps below:

  • Go to Word –> File –> Options
  • In the General tab, uncheck “Open e-mail attachments and other editable files in reading view”


Now Word will open your files in print layout by default.

Navigation and comments panes

When you are in read mode, you will see a View menu on top of the Word 2013 window. Clicking on the View button will open the menu for you. The first two items are the navigation pane and comments pane. The navigation pane is especially useful when you are reading a long document and want to jump back and forth frequently and quickly. The navigation pane lets you jump through headings, pages or search results.


Although you can’t edit the original document, you can add comments to it. This is particularly useful in an office environment where a document needs to be reviewed and edited several times.

To add a comment anywhere in the document, right click where you would like to place the comment and select “New comment.”


Column Width

Since the Read Mode is like responsive web design, it can adjust to the screen size automatically. For example, if you have a wider display, a document can open in up to 3 columns of content. The default view opens in two columns like a book. But if you want to open the document in one column which is for a wider layout, you can do so by going to “View -> Column Width”. You will get these three options:

  1. Narrow
  2. Default
  3. Wide


Page color

Some people like to read text in inverted colors. The default color for reading a document is black ink with a white background. If you want to have white text with black background, you can go to “View -> Page Color -> Inverse”. You will find three options in the Page Color menu.

  1. None
  2. Sepia
  3. Inverse


Page Layout

By default, Word scrolls horizontally in Read Mode. If you are not comfortable with this, you can change it to vertical scrolling by going to “View -> Layout -> Paper layout”.


I have found the Word 2013 Read Mode useful especially when reading documents on my tablet or even on my laptop using the three-column layout. Everything seems to adjust perfectly according to the screen size. Read Mode makes the interface minimal so that we can concentrate on reading rather than editing and other tasks. This creates a distraction-free environment for enjoyable reading.

What are your thoughts about the Word 2013 Read Mode? If you are using a tablet to open your documents, does the Read Mode offer any advantage over other layouts?

Usman Khurshid

Usman is a technology enthusiast and loves tweaking Microsoft products. In addition to MakeTechEasier, he contributes regularly to iTechtics.com.

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