Reading PDFs on the Kindle

I bought a Kindle in the hopes that I wouldn't need to print all the various research papers I need to read as I progress through my Ph.D coursework. So far, I have to give it a mixed review. I find it useful for papers that I'm assigned to read, or papers that I am curious about, but not useful for anything I need to read critically or analyze in-depth – for that, I really need to be able to jot down comments in the margines (perhaps I need an iPad for that purpose). 

For things that I do read on the kindle (which by the way, is very handy for reading on the bus and in bed at night), I have a few tricks to make it easier to read. Note that I use Acrobat Professional, so I can easily modify PDFs – I'm not sure how easy this is with the various free software packages out there.

  1. Find the clearest version of the article. Articles are often available through a variety of databases. Some of the databases used scanned images of the article, where others use the PDFs that were generated directly from the articles source. The PDFs generated from the source are generally much clearer, as they are text that is rendered directly on the screen as opposed to scans which are pictures of the text.
  2. If the document is a scan, run the OCR recognition. This isn't necessary if the PDF is not a scan – you can tell by the quality of the text. If the text is a little fuzzy, chances are it is a scan. Running the OCR recognition allows you to use the highlight functionality on the Kindle. 
  3. Adjust the margins. I minimize the space in the margins to that the text on the kindle is as large as possible without requiring zooming. For many documents, I can remove as much as 2.25 inches from the left and right margins. This makes the text appear much larger on the Kindle screen.

Do you have any tips or tricks for reading academic articles on your Kindle?

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