101 Ways To Read Slate

101 Ways To Read Slate

101 Ways To Read Slate

The inner workings of Slate.
July 12 2001 3:00 AM

101 Ways To Read Slate

... and counting.

Editor's Note, Jan. 2002: Much of this article is out of date following a recent redesign. Now we've made it much easier to read Slate in whatever form you want. Just use the Output Options menu (from the list on the left side of any Slate page), from which you can get a printable version of the magazine, subscribe to our e-mail deliveries, download articles as an eBook for the Microsoft Reader, or get Slate onto your handheld computer. Better yet, do all of the above (except sign up for e-mails) at Build Your Own Slate, a handy all-in-one tool.

Well, maybe not 101, but we offer Slate in myriad forms, and we wanted to make sure you are aware of all of them.


1. The obvious way of reading Slate is to go to www.slate.com or www.slate.msn.com and read it online. We don't discourage this at all! We do find this method works best if, along with the outstanding articles, you also take the opportunity to click all the advertisements and buy the products and services they offer.

In most browsers, you can right-click slate.com or slate.msn.com and add Slate to your Favorites or Bookmarks. Do it now, please, before you forget. You can also make a Favorite or Bookmark for regular Slate departments and go straight to the latest article in that department. Here is a list of some popular Slate departments. Just right-click any of them and choose "Add to Favorites." You can also drag-and-drop any of these links to your desktop, your Favorites folder, or an e-mail to your senator. Heck, you might even want to bookmark this very page for future reference.

2. At http://slate.msn.com/eBook/htmlEbook.htm, you will find every article in the current Table of Contents (roughly a week's worth), formatted into a single (very long) all-text Web page. This page is updated every day at about 11:30 a.m. Go ahead, click the link and have a look. What can you do with this wonderful page? To start, you can make it a Favorite or a Bookmark, or put a shortcut on your desktop, which we recommend that you do right away. (Just right-click on the link, in most cases.) Then you can …

• Use it to read Slate off-line. Just call up the page and save it to your hard drive or a floppy. Although it is one long page, there is a Table of Contents with links to individual articles, so no maniacal scrolling is required. If you want to get fancy, you can make this page a Favorite, approve it for off-line reading, and then set up a daily synchronization for 12:30 p.m., about an hour after we post each day's updated version. That way, you'll always have a complete and current Slate on your machine. (How do you do all this? See your browser's Help for details. It's not as hard as it sounds. We get it right almost half the time.)


• Download this file to your palmtop or tablet device, either manually whenever you need it or through an automatic scheduled download. How? Oh, just like any other Web page. Need we say more? You're the one who bought the thing. (Don't try to sync this file using AvantGo, which is usually terrific but uncooperative in this case.)

• Print it out, although there are better ways to print out Slate articles (see below).

3. At http://slate.msn.com/ebook/slate.lit is another daily-updated file of everything in Slate for the past seven days. This one, though, is in Microsoft's eBook format, Microsoft Reader with ClearType. With this file you can …

• Read Slate on your Pocket PC (any palmtop using the latest version of Microsoft's software). Using recent versions of Windows and Internet Explorer (meaning, "if you happen to use Windows and Internet Explorer," not "you'd better be using Windows and Internet Explorer"), you can make this Web address a Mobile Favorite (that's just a sub-folder of your Favorites folder), set it up for off-line reading and daily synchronization with your desktop as described—though not, actually, explained—in Item 2 above, and then the latest version will be loaded automatically whenever you sync your Pocket PC with your desktop. Or, of course, you can just download the file and drag-and-drop it to your Mobile Device like a normal person.


• Use this Microsoft Reader file as a way to read Slate off-line on your grown-up computer. The downside is that you must install the (free) Microsoft Reader software. The upside is that the type really is clearer and the whole thing works like a book, with turning pages instead of scrolling, and so on. Give it a try.

4. But wait, you say. Suppose I want to read Slate as much as possible like a traditional weekly magazine. I want it on paper. I want at least two columns of text per page. I don't want the latest seven days' worth: I want an official weekly issue that comes out at the same time of the same day every week. I may even want to let it congeal in guilty piles in a corner of my den like The New Yorker. Or I may want to acquire a back issue in its entirety rather than rooting through your archive for scraps.

For you, we offer Slate on Paper. No, it's not actually on paper—that's a metaphor. But it is a Microsoft Word file, which, when printed out, looks exactly like the Slateon [Actual] Paper we used to mail to people for $70 a year. Only it's free. And you get it quicker: You can download each week's issue as soon as we post it at around 1 p.m. PT on Fridays, rather than waiting for the Postal Service to deliver it some day the following week.

If you have a fairly recent version of Word, simply clicking on the above link should download and open the July 6 issue, which you can then print out or save like any other Word document. Or go to this page for a link to the most recent issue at any time. You also can go here for a complete set of links to every issue of Slate on Paper for 2001. (Unfortunately, clicking on a date in the future will not open up an issue that doesn't exist yet. But we're working on that.)


5. If your version of Word cannot handle this file—or if, for some reason, you don't have Word on your machine at all—you can use the Slate on Paper HTML version, which has the same content as the Slate on Paper Word document, but without all the fancy formatting. It still looks OK. You can print it out directly from your browser, or you can open it in some word processor (Microsoft Word comes to mind) and pretty it up yourself. (You also can use this HTML version for onscreen/off-line reading, for downloading to a portable device, and so on.)

6. You can receive regular e-mail delivery of certain Slate features and collections of related articles, or for e-mail notification of what's up on slate.com. Go to this page for details and to sign up.

7. For the ultimate in personalization, please try MySlate. It is a checklist of all current Slate articles (again, those that have been posted in the past seven days). You may choose to see them listed by date or by department. You then select just the articles you want and MySlate will custom-build you a collection, which you can choose to receive in the form of a magazine-style double-column printout (if you have a recent version of Word), a less-fancy printout, an all-text Web page, a Microsoft Reader eBook file, an audio file in which your selected articles are read by a robotic voice, or as an e-mail.

You can send the e-mail to yourself or anybody else (via our e-mail system, not yours); you can transfer the audio file, the text file, or the Microsoft Reader file to a portable device; you can use all three formats on your main-squeeze PC; and, of course, you can sit in a chair by the fire and read the printout on paper. Undoubtedly there are other options we haven't tried. Burn the audio file onto a CD and listen to it in the car? Send the e-mail to a fax machine?

8. Similar options are available for individual articles (including older, archived ones that aren't listed in MySlate), by using the icons that appear below the article's title and byline.

If none of these methods of reading Slate is satisfactory for you, your problem may be with the content, not the format.

Do you know a better way to readSlate? (Besides "Not at all.") Post your tips—or questions—in The Fray.