How To Add Estimated Reading Time In Your WordPress Posts

Estimated Reading Time WordPress Posts
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I am sure about one thing – most of you have visited

In case you haven’t, let me tell you that it is a blogging platform where you can read stories and ideas and write on any topic you like. It can also be used for syndicating your posts and get traffic to your site without worrying about duplicate content issues.

Although Medium is not as good as WordPress (sorry, I’m a bit biased here :P), it comes with a feature that I really like.

It displays the estimated reading time in every article, just like this:

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And sadly, core WordPress doesn’t have this feature so far.

However, you can still add that feature on your WordPress site with the help of a plugin.

So, in this post, I’ll show how you can add the estimated reading time feature on your WordPress website, just like Medium.

Should You Use Time to Read Feature on Your Website?

Think of the following:

  • Checking the time left to get in touch with the support staff of any product or service
  • Using GPS to check the time left to reach your destination
  • Checking the total time of a video or movie

If you notice carefully, one thing is common in all the above – TIME.

No one wants to wait for anything, isn’t that right?

The same is also applicable when we are reading articles. We want to get the solution to our problems as quickly as possible.

This is where the reading time feature comes in handy and thus, will help you to:

At the end of the day, you can always test what works for you. Add it on your site and check the results whether it is helping you or not.

How to Display Reading Time in Your WordPress Posts

The concept of reading time is very simple.

Let’s assume that an average adult reads 250 words per minute. So, the reading time of a 1500-words article will be the number of words divided by 250, which is 6 minutes.

Of course, you don’t have to calculate the read time of all your articles manually. There are many WordPress plugins available on the web that will do this job efficiently.

The one I can recommend is Reading Time WP.

It is a simple plugin which does its job in a great way. You can display the read time in your posts and pages automatically as well as manually (using shortcodes).

Step 1: Install the plugin

After you log in to your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins -> Add New.

Now search for Reading Time WP in the search box present in the top right corner. Once you find it, install and activate it:

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Step 2: Setup

Once you activate the plugin, it will automatically add the read time feature on your posts. However, you can certainly turn it on/off from the settings page. Also, you can make other changes as per your wish.

Let me show you how to do it:

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Go to Settings -> Reading Time WP from the left sidebar panel.

Here, you can change the text that appears before and after the time. You can also change the average reading speed which is set to 300 by default.

You can also decide whether you want to insert the reading time into your content and excerpt. Just check/uncheck the options you like and do not forget to save the changes by clicking on the Update Options button.

Now, let’s check out one of our posts with this feature:

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You can also display it manually with the help of the following shortcode:

[rt_reading_time label=”Reading Time:” postfix=”minutes” postfix_singular=”minute”]

Step 3: Style the Text (Optional)

This plugin adds the read time in plain text, whether you choose to do that automatically or using shortcodes.

So, how can you style it so that it stands out from the rest of the content?

Well, you can do that with the help of CSS.

But before making any changes, do not forget to backup your files.

Once you are done, just go to Appearance -> Customize and then click on Additional CSS. Now add the following code in the text area and click on Publish:

.rt-reading-time {
font: italic bold 16px sans-serif;
color: #009688;
margin-bottom: 15px;

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Cool, isn’t it?

If you are familiar with CSS and want to style it on your own, you may check out this page where Jason, the developer of this plugin, has mentioned all the three classes that you can use.

For Advanced Users

In case you want to display the time to read feature along with other meta information like author name, category, and date, you have to edit your theme files and place the following code:

<?php echo do_shortcode(‘[rt_reading_time label=”Reading Time:” postfix=”minutes”]’); ?>

Note: Before changing anything, do not forget to backup your files. Also, if you are not confident, please contact your theme developer and ask them to help you.

Some Alternative Plugins

There are many alternative plugins that you can use to achieve the same. And hence I decided to list the best 3 alternative plugins in this article.

The good news is all of them offer some extra features along with reading time. So let’s check them out:

Swift Bar

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Swift Bar is a clean coded and lightweight plugin that adds a sticky bar at the bottom of your posts. Not only does it display time to read, it also adds social sharing buttons and progress bar.

The following are the features you will find in the swift bar:

  • Category of the current post
  • Title of the current post
  • Author Name
  • Time to Read
  • Social Share buttons along with counters
  • Previous and Next Post links

Isn’t that cool?

Of course, you can turn on/off the ones you don’t like. Just go to the setting page and disable the features which you don’t want.

Worth The Read

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Worth The Read plugin adds a progress bar that indicates how far the user has reached on the page. You can control the placement of the progress bar from the settings page. You also have the freedom of deciding whether you want to display it on your posts, pages, or homepage.

This plugin also allows you to add read time on your pages. You can enable this feature and decide where on the page you want to show it.

WP Time to Read

WP Time to read plugin
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WP Time to Read is a premium plugin and has been developed by MyThemeShop Team. Though I don’t really recommend you to use a premium plugin for this feature, you may use this plugin if you have an extended membership of MyThemeShop or you are planning to purchase the same.

WP Time to Read is just like Worth The Read plugin. You can display the time and add a progress bar to your posts. Also, you can change the color of the progress bar from the settings page.

Note: While there are other plugins available in the WordPress plugin repository, I don’t recommend them because those plugins have not been updated for the last 2 or more years.


I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful!

So, what are your thoughts on displaying estimated reading time in your articles? Do you think it will help in reducing bounce rate and increase engagement of the users? Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

Also, if you are aware of any other plugin that does the same, please share it with the ShoutMeLoud community.

And don’t forget to share this article on your favourite social networking sites ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are a few hand-picked guides for you to read next:

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Authored By
Sandipan Mukherjee is the founder of It is a blog which brings you the best guides, tips, and tutorials related to WordPress.

18 thoughts on “How To Add Estimated Reading Time In Your WordPress Posts”

  1. Dane

    You mentioned a code to enter into your theme file for “advanced users,” but you didn’t mention WHERE to put the code or even which theme file to put it in. Can you fill me in on that please?

  2. rakesh kumar

    Well, Time to read plugin is a great WordPress plugin to engage our readers and give them a little idea about how much time is you are going to spend on this knowledge base. But It is not a good idea to add a plugin for almost everything. It would be a great help for us if you could also provide us a little program to implement this

  3. Reewom

    Hello Sandipan,

    Iโ€™m totally sold on this plugin. Thank you very much.

    Like you said, I will try it and see how my audience will respond to it.

    If it scares them, which I will notice by taking note of my bounce rate, then I have uninstall it but if it decreases my bounce rate, then Iโ€™m going to keep it.

    I just need features that will continue to make my site unique.

    Thanks for sharing. Thanks Harsh for having you here.


  4. Abhishek+Rathore

    Hello Sandipian,

    Is there any such free plugin which supports these functions.

  5. Emenike Emmanuel

    Hello Sandipan,

    I’m totally sold on this plugin. Thank you very much.

    Like you said, I will try it and see how my audience will respond to it.

    If it scares them, which I will notice by taking note of my bounce rate, then I have uninstall it but if it decreases my bounce rate, then I’m going to keep it.

    I just need features that will continue to make my site unique.

    Thanks for sharing. Thanks Harsh for having you here.


  6. salman

    Wow! I couldn’t imagine about this feature. I am surely going to use it.

    Thanks Sandipan

  7. Inksplore

    Hi Sabdipan,
    Truly said about “No one likes to wait for anything.”
    Like you said, to reduce the bounce rates out of many things that I tried one of them was to install similar plugin recently. I have my fingers crossed for the results.

  8. RoyPatton

    I will definitely use this on my website, I believe the user retention will be higher… since they will know that reading an certain article will take just a certain amount of time.. e.g. 3 mins… such a valuable asset!

  9. Ashutosh Singh

    Hi Sandipan,
    great feature, I love this feature showing reading time. Whenever reading time shows before I go to read an article, it feels some better that ok it not that long, it takes only hardly 5 minutes or whatever they show.
    I also saw a very nice method to show reading time and article engagement on the semrush blog that is called as wow-score.
    can you please also explain how to add the feature like that?
    Thank you!

  10. Nikola Roza

    Hi Sandipan.
    I enjoyed your article about adding the estimated time to read on WordPress. I don’t use it but use Worth the Read on my blog and these plugins are similar.
    Anyway, I’d like to suggest two further reasons why these types of plugins are good for websites to have.

    1. Being upfront with how much time it’ll take to read the post is a sign of respect for the reader and their time. And when folks see you respect their TIME, they, in turn, start respecting you (they start to trust you more)

    Couple that with useful content you put out and you find yourself much closer to making a sale; all the while being a valuable member of the internet community.

    2. I don’t have concrete proof, but I think they are good for UX and for keeping people on site longer. I say that because Conversion XL uses them on all their posts (along with estimated time to read). And they’re experts who know what they’re doing.

  11. Debadeep Biswas

    Hello Sandipan,
    You have shared a great guide and showing estimated reading time is always useful to make the site look professional. These are some of the small tweaks which we always ignore but can be handy sometimes to make your site look different.

  12. Anna

    Does this plugin support Visual Composer? The obstacle I am having at the time is it doesn’t show up in the widget.

  13. vipin

    I have gone through medium several times. I have also seen read time display but i never taken that seriously.
    But i think for beginners like me.
    We need a plugin that display read time to only us not to reader, because sometimes it could be very less and embarrassing.
    But ya for site seo purpose it is very good, we can focus on its improvement.

  14. Vaibhav Kulkarni

    Great feature, I am gonna try this, seems like it will encourage visitors to read more articles in one go.

  15. Shery

    Thats sounds great. I got a query.
    Is that user reading time got any relation with the bounce rate of a website?

    1. Sandipan Mukherjee

      Hi Shrey,

      Though there is no direct relation, still this feature might work as a psychological factor and help in reducing the bouncing rate.

      Maria Konnikova, contributor at New Yorker where she writes about psychology, once said – “The more we know about something โ€” including precisely how much time it will consume โ€” the greater the chance we will commit to it.”

      Also, I read an article on Marketing Land and found some data:

      1. Brian Cray, a frontend developer, added this feature and concluded that the estimated reading time improved his overall time on site by 13.8%.

      2. David Michael Ross said his overall bounce rate dropped by 13%.

      So who knows, it may work for you as well ๐Ÿ˜‰


    2. Rohit Singh

      NO! But inserting reading time on a website will help your readers to not get bored. However, after inserting it users (readers) will know what time is going to take to finish the reading. And obviously, it makes them stick till the end. For example: according to some SEO experts like brain dean, they found that telling people what they get after reading this or that will hold them for last. And Reading time will do exactly that. Overall, it decreases your site bounce rate!

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