Skimming and Scanning

General Principles:

This is a vital initial step to help you get an overview of the text and decide whether it is relevant. Try scanning the text and skim reading, it should only take a few minutes and will allow you to quickly discard any texts that are not relevant:

Scanning text is what you do when you are searching for particular information, or checking to see whether a passage is relevant. To decide if a text is relevant you would use scanning to look for relevant key words in the contents and index pages.

  • Run your finger down the page to keep your eyes focusing on the search for key words.

Skim reading is useful when you want to quickly gain an overview or familiarise yourself with a chapter or an article to understand the structure for later note-making.

  • Do read summaries, heading and subheadings.
  • Look at tables, diagrams, illustrations, etc.
  • Read first sentences of paragraphs to see what they are about.
  • Don’t read every word.

Skim reading is useful when you want to get an overview of a text. However if you want to learn what is in the text, you need to follow the argument and that requires slowing down and taking it bit by bit.