Skimming, Scanning And Reading

Skimming, Scanning, and Reading

Lady reading

Skimming, Scanning And Reading  Books and Other Materials

Skimming

Skimming is a reading technique that entails reading only main ideas within a text to get an overall impression of its content. It is not a haphazard process where one places his eyes wherever they fall but entails running ones’ eyes very quickly over large chunks of material to pick up the main ideas and tone without paying attention to details. A single chapter would take only a few minutes. Skimming, therefore, is very apt in:

  • Test reviews.
  • Overview of textbook chapters.
  • Deciding whether a material is necessary.

Although skimming does not read every word, special attention is paid to typographical cues like headings, indenting, boldface and italic type,  bulleted and numbered lists, etc.. Pay special attention to keywords and phrases, people’s names and phrases, nouns, dates and unfamiliar words among others.

When to use:

  • Skim to locate relevant sections from a lot of written materials quickly
  • Skim when there are few headings or graphic elements in a text.

How to skim

For efficient skimming, there must be a structure:

  • Read the title.
  • Read the table of contents or chapter overview to learn the main divisions of ideas.
  • Glance through the profounding headings in each chapter just to see a word or two. Read the headings of charts and tables.
  • Read the entire introductory paragraph and then the first and last sentences only of each following paragraph; read only the first few words of each sentence to locate the main idea.
  • Read the key words indicated in boldface or italics.
  • Significant information is located, stop and read the entire sentence carefully.
  • Read chapter summaries when provided.

Resist the urge to stop and read details you do not need.

If for any reason ( like time factor), you cannot complete the steps above, compromise:

  • Read only the chapter overview and summaries or the summaries and all the boldfaced keywords.

Note, however, that when you skim, you take a calculated risk of missing out something as the main ideas of paragraphs may not always be in the first and last sentences. Nevertheless, any ideas missed may be picked up in a chapter overview or summary.

Like good skimmers, neither skim everything at the same rate nor give equal time to everything. Skimming is usually faster than a person’s reading speed so slow down in areas like:

  • Introductory and concluding paragraphs.
  • Topic sentences.
  • Noticed unfamiliar words.

Scanning

Scanning is a reading technique which enables you to glean specific information from a volume of written materials. It entails sweeping your eyes [like radar] over part of a text in a bid to answering the question in your mind.

How to Scan

Research& Study

In research and study, facts with seemingly no connection to your topic may be hidden within long text passages; such material should first be skimmed to ascertain if it contains some needful information.

Lists of tables should also be skimmed to understand what their organizational structure is: alphabetical, chronological, most-to-least, etc.

After skimming, identify any section{s} of the materials that are useful. With this done, go ahead and scan:

  • Knowing your purpose, determine what clues you need to locate it {decide on a few key words or phrases for use in the search}.
  • Scan only one keyword at a time; multiple keywords need multiple scanning.
  • Rapidly run your eyes down the page until you find the word or phrase you want.
  • When you locate any of your keywords, slow down and carefully read the surrounding materials.

Answering Specific Questions:

In scanning for facts to answer a particular question, the question itself supplies the needed keywords. Follow these steps:

  • Read each question carefully and comprehensively; choose your keywords from it.
  • Look for answers to only one question at a time; scan each keyword separately.
  • On locating a keyword, read the surrounding text carefully to check its relevance.
  • When you think you have found the answer to your question, reread the question to be sure it answers the question precisely.

Scanning requires concentration; you should as such be focused, not letting your attention wander.

Choose a time and place that will help you to shut out all possible distractions while allowing utmost concentration.

Skimming and scanning are no substitutes for thorough reading, should only be used to locate materials quickly.

Differences:

Skimming and scanning use rapid eye movement and keywords to move quickly through texts for slightly different purposes:

  • In skimming, one reads rapidly to get a general overview {bird’s eye view} of the material within a section, but scanning locates {swoops down} on facts when reading.
  • While skimming is used in pre-viewing {reading before you read} and reviewing {reading after you read} to determine the main idea from large sections you do not wish to read thoroughly. Scanning is used in research to find facts, study fact-heavy topics and answer questions requiring factual support.

Advantages:

  • Skimming, though not meant to be used all the time, may save you hours of laborious reading being very useful as a preview to a more detailed reading. It not only tells enough about the general idea and tone of the material, but it also highlights the similarity/difference from other sources thereby helping you to decide whether to read the text.

Reading

Reading an essential skill enables you to learn much of what you need to know. It is also excellent for improving a reader’s general English. Majorly divided into extensive reading which among other things entails reading widely and intensive reading which is concerned with reading texts more carefully and thoroughly again and again.

Unlike skimming, reading neither misses important points nor does it overlook finer shadings of meaning in a material.

In reading, therefore, a reader needs to:

  • Intelligently decide on what to read.
  • Be flexible in the way to read.
  • Know the purpose for every reading.

Related References

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One Response to Skimming, Scanning And Reading

  1. Pingback: Tips and tricks to become an avid reader | Writing and The Written Word

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