Can we use coloured text to speed up reading?

According to Wikipedia:

German gothic text
German gothic text

In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme → colour synesthesia or colour-graphemic synesthesia, letters or numbers are perceived as inherently coloured.

My thought is whether artificially helping people associate letters with colours, can increase the speed of reading, specifically, in ‘specially prepared’ texts read from a computer screen, but I’m also interested in whether it might persist away from there.


Most people read by pattern matching the first two letters (ish) of a word – it’s how the neolism Typoglycemia works: for how you can largely understand:

“Amzanig huh? Yaeh and you awlyas thguoht slpeling was ipmorantt.”

Often though, we’re reading text on a computer, that the computer can help us with. That is to say, a webpage, an email, an ebook. Computer manufacturers spend a lot of time developing typefaces that are easy to read, and hard to confuse the letters of (Google even came up with an entire typeface for Android).

But it’s not always possible or desirable to read things in typefaces that are different from the original,

My theory is that the brain can probably increase its word-based pattern matching skills, by assigning each letter of the alphabet a shade of colour.

This might sound like the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard or seen, but if you consider that programmers used syntax highlighting to quickly derive extra meaning from great blocks of text – it seems more reasonable that there might be some way of using colours to improve up pattern matching when reading words.

So take a look at this prototype colourphabet I just threw together.





The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

You’re not the only one thinking “this is much harder to read than ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog'” and I don’t propose that I’ve solved this, or got anything more than the start of a stupid-sounding idea.

I wonder if it might better apply with different colour pallets, or perhaps colour pallets applied to different words in sentences – perhaps based on adjective/verb/etc… or something else?

How would you improve it? I’d love to hear your ideas!