Incremental Reading (Pagemarks and Tracking Progress)

Incremental reading is a strategy around suspending and resuming reading of a document over time. Reading the documents in chunks and coming back to the document at any future point in time.

Wikipedia has a good overview of incremental reading

Incremental reading is a software-assisted method for learning and retaining information from reading, helping with the creation of flashcards out of electronic articles read in portions inside a prioritized reading list.

It is particularly targeted to people who are trying to learn for life a large amount of information, particularly if that information comes from various sources.

“Incremental reading” means “reading in portions”. Instead of a linear reading of articles one at a time, the method works by keeping a large reading list of electronic articles or books (often dozens or hundreds of them) and reading parts of several articles in each session. Articles in the reading list are prioritized by the user.

In the course of reading, key points of articles are broken up into flashcards, which are then learned and reviewed over an extended period of time with the help of a spaced repetition algorithm.

Incremental reading in Polar is implemented with the use of “pagemarks” which allow the user to mark regions of the document as read.

You can think of a pagemark as a kind of ‘sectioned bookmark’. A pagemark has a start and an end so that you know which part of the book has been read.

Pagemarks allow suspend and resume of reading for weeks and months in the future until you’re ready to resume, without losing your place.

Pagemarks are contrasted with bookmarks in that a bookmark is only a simple pointer.

Pagemarks allow you to specify a range, or multiple ranges. Additionally, pagemarks are used to keep track of the total progress of the document and to sort documents in the document repository by their reading progress..

Screenshot showing a document with 4 pagemarks

Create Pagemark to Point

When you right click and select “Create Pagemark to Point” Polar creates pagemarks over all previous pages up until the previous pagemark (or the beginning) of the document.

This enables you to import a book which you’ve been reading and mark multiple pages as read so that you can now just use Polar to track your pgoress.

For example, if you have a 300 page book, and you’ve read pages 1-200 you can just jump to page 200 and “Create Pagemark to Point” and pagemarks will be created across all previous pages.

You can still pagemark the current page by selecting “Create Pagemark Box” to or run “Control Alt N” to mark just the current page.

Create Pagemark Box.

When you right click and select “Create Pagemark Box” Polar creates a single pagemark box which you can resize and drag to cover parts of the page you’ve read.

This is useful when the document has multiple columns and you want to mark a single column.


Pagemarks can be created with either the keyboard of the mouse.

When working with a document you can simply right click and “Create Pagemark at Point” which will create a pagemark on the current page to the current mouse position.

Linux / Windows key bindings

  • Control Alt N - create a new pagemark on the current page
  • Control Alt click - create a pagemark on the page up until the current mouse click
  • Control Alt E - erase the current pagemark

MacOS Key bindings

  • Meta-Command N - create a new pagemark on the current page
  • Meta-Command click - create a pagemark on the page up until the current mouse click
  • Meta-Command E - erase the current pagemark