I have a Kindle with a 6’’ screen and reading technical papers is difficult. However, I am fortunate that most of the papers I read follow the 2-column format. As a result, there is a technique available to make reading technical papers less painful. I have only tested this with my Kindle. I will be demonstrating the method using the LinkBench technical paper from SIGMOD. These instructions may also work for the Kindle Paperwhite as well. Please leave a comment letting me know if it does.

The Quirks of the Kindle

This technique involves, changing the the orientation, the zoom, and properly using the arrow keys to navigate the page. You can use it without making any modifications to the Kindle or the document you want to read.

  1. Open up the document

  2. Hit the Menu button to bring up hidden options menubtn

  3. Select 'Zoom & Contrast'

  4. Select 200%

  5. Using the arrow keys arrow , position rectangle in top left corner

    20140105_112653 20140105_112710
  6. To go to the second column, do not use the right arrow key arrow

    Intuitively, you would go to the right side in order to view the second column by pressing the right arrow two times. However, on the second press, the Kindle is not smart enough to realize it viewing beyond the bounds of the document. As a result, it repositions as if the document kept going to the right.
    First right arrow press Second right arrow press
    first right press second right press
  7. To go to the second column, use the left arrow key arrow

    Here we are playing a trick on the Kindle to do the right thing. It wraps around and properly displays the second column. To go back to the first column we need to use the right arrow key. 20140105_112742


Reading two column technical documents on the Kindle is possible. It’s just not very intuitive to figure out on your own. Please let me know what Kindles and e-readers this trick works for.


Timothy G. Armstrong, Vamsi Ponnekanti, Dhruba Borthakur, and Mark Callaghan. 2013. LinkBench: a database benchmark based on the Facebook social graph. In Proceedings of the 2013 ACM SIGMOD International Conference on Management of Data (SIGMOD ‘13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1185-1196. DOI=10.1145/2463676.2465296 (Available here)