Nowadays many blogs and web magazines are displaying reading time estimate for their articles. Reading time is usually displayed in the article header, between the title and the content. The advantage of displaying this information is in increased visitors engagement on the website and reduced bounce rate. Therefore, visitors will more likely read an article if they know how much time it will take. Estimated reading time WordPress plugins are a ready-made solution to enhance your blog posts or magazine articles.
How does estimated reading time in WordPress work?
Adults read an average of 200 to 300 words per minute, depending on the readability of the text. Articles with more short sentences are faster to read. Accordingly, articles with the majority of long sentences are read slower.
Dedicated plugins or custom coded functions are used in WordPress to calculate and display Estimated reading time. In both cases, words in post content are counted and divided by average reading speed per minute. Furthermore, the result is usually rounded to the closest whole number and displayed inside the post template.
Free Estimated reading time WordPress plugins
We tested a couple of free Estimated reading time WordPress plugins available in the WP Plugin Repository. They all do their job well, so there’s no need for premium or commercial solutions.
Essentialy, all the estimated read time plugins work the same way, as we described above. There are slight differences between them in matter of customization. Some of plugins offer basic visual customization, which comes handy if you’re not familiar with CSS styling. All plugins display reading time in predefined positions inside the post template. Most of them also offer a shortcode which allows to display the read time information anywhere inside the template.
Additionally, some plugins even display a reading progress bar. The progress bar fills up as the visitor scroll down trough the content and shows how much text is left to read. It’s a nice enhancement you might want to implement into your blog.
Reading Time WP plugin
Reading Time WP by Jason Yingling is the most used plugin for adding estimated read time to WordPress sites. It takes less than a minute to customize a couple of options and display estimated reading time in articles.
There are no visual settings, so you’ll need some CSS knowledge to style the displayed information if needed. For experienced developers there’s a customizable shortcode to embed the read time information anywhere inside the post template.
A great feature is inserting estimated reading time into post excerpts. It allows to display the read time information within post archives and categories, without the need for any coding. Furthermore, this plugin is very light and doesn’t generate additional server requests, which means it won’t affect site loading speed.
Worth The Read estimated reading time plugin
Worth The Read by Well Done Marketing is another well done plugin to display article reading time in WordPress. Apart from showing the read time, this plugin can also dispay a progress bar, which shows how much content is left to read. It’s a nice feature for enhancing the user experience while reading articles. You can choose to display both read time information and progress bar, or just one of those.
Unlike the Reading Time WP plugin, Worth The Read includes many visual customization options. You can adjust the reading time estimate and progress bar look without any previous knowledge of CSS.
Worth The Read plugin can’t display read time within post excerpts, archives and categories by default. Nevertheless, advanced users have at their disposal a shortcode to insert the estimated reading time info anywhere inside the post template, even in excerpts and post archives.
This plugin is a bit more advanced and more customizable than Reading Time WP, but it has one downside. The plugin is generating additional server requests which slightly impacts the site loading speed. If loading speed doesn’t concern you too much and you want to enchance the user experience with the cool progress bar, this is the right plugin for you. Otherwise, consider using Reading Time WP which also does it’s job well but doesn’t affect the loading speed.
How to add Estimated reading time to WordPress using PHP scripts?
Many developers will rather write custom code than use WordPress plugins. If you’re among them, or the Estimated reading time plugins don’t satisfy your needs, check out our tutorials on how to add read time functionality to WordPress by custom PHP scripts: