Add reading time to blog articles

This article will show how to add estimated reading time to your posts. This is pretty easy to achieve with Contentlayer’s computed fields.

This article assumes that you have read my previous post and integrated Contentlayer into your project accordingly. We will build upon the foundations laid in the last article and add a new computed field to the Post document type to display the estimated reading time of the article to the readers.

How to compute reading time?

Computing the reading time of any text content requires two things -

  1. The text content itself, which, thanks to Contentlayer, is available to us in raw form in post.body.raw where post is the JSON parsed by contentlayer from the mdx file.
  2. An algorithm to calculate the reading time

We can come up with our own algorithm or use a package to do the heavy lifting for us. A number of packages exist on the NPM registry to help with this task -

  1. reading-time
  2. read-time-estimate

read-time-estimate appears to be a more complete package that also takes image read times into consideration, but I am not sure if it is meant as a ready-to-use package. At least I couldn’t get it to work with my setup. So, I decided to go with reading-time, a far more popular package.

Adding a new computed field

After finalising the package to use, it’s time to install it. I will use yarn to install the package. You can find a similar command for your package manager.

yarn add -D reading-time

This will install reading-time as a dev-dependency in our project, which is fine given that we will only be utilising this package at build time.

Once installed, it is time to import and use it in the contentlayer.config.js -

import { defineDocumentType, makeSource } from "contentlayer/source-files"
import readingTime from "reading-time"
const Post = defineDocumentType(() => ({
  name: "Post",
  filePathPattern: "posts/*.mdx",
  contentType: "mdx",
  fields: {
    title: { type: "string", required: true },
    published: { type: "string", required: true },
    description: { type: "string" },
    status: {
      type: "enum",
      options: ["draft", "published"],
      required: true,
  computedFields: {
    slug: {
      type: "string",
      resolve: (doc) => doc._raw.sourceFileName.replace(/\.mdx$/, ""),
    readingTime: {
      type: "json",
      resolve: (doc) => readingTime(doc.body.raw),
export default makeSource({
  contentDirPath: "content",
  documentTypes: [Post],

Rendering it

In the generated JSON files, we will have the readingTime property available for use in the components.

  "title": "Hello World",
  "published": "2023-07-30T13:05:24.000Z",
  "status": "published",
  "body": {
    "raw": "\nHello world! This is my first post.\n",
    "code": "var Component=(()=>{var sr=Object.create;..."
  "_id": "posts/hello-world.mdx",
  "_raw": {
    "sourceFilePath": "posts/hello-world.mdx",
    "sourceFileName": "hello-world.mdx",
    "sourceFileDir": "posts",
    "contentType": "mdx",
    "flattenedPath": "posts/hello-world"
  "readingTime": {
    "text": "1 min read",
    "minutes": 0.035,
    "time": 2100,
    "words": 7
  "type": "Post",
  "slug": "hello-world"

To use it in the component, we can use the post.readingTime.minutes property to show the time-to-read, something like this (here post contains the JSON data shown above) -

<p>Time to read: {Math.round(post.readingTime.minutes)} mins</p>