How To Scan (Read) Non-Fiction

How To Scan (Read) Non-Fiction Materials/Books For Rapid Reading
Women Reading At Counter

How To Scan (Read) Non-Fiction Materials/Books For Rapid Reading

Most people do some daily reading. People read for three different reasons:

  • For entertainment.
  • To gather information.
  • To further one’s knowledge on a subject.

Since most people read at an average speed of 250 words per minute, an average page in a book/document would take 1-2 minutes to read. If, however, a student can double this rate to 500 words per minute, he could zip through an entire book content in half the time. Speed-reading skill, therefore, makes a student more efficient as the time saved could be allotted to other areas of life – sports, family, dates, etc. In rapid reading a non-fiction book, these steps should be applied:

Create a conducive environment

  • Find an environment which minimizes external distractions, as it leads to poor concentration. Concentration is usually best in the mornings.
  • Sit upright and clear your mind as you get ready to read.


  • It’s normal that people get the most excitement from their book within the first few days of reading it, so plan your reading for when you have the most energy and enthusiasm.
  •  Plan to finish the book within two weeks as people who linger beyond this rarely finish it.

Exercise your eyes

Now get your get your eyes used to see words at a much faster rate than you usually do to:

  • Spend about 5 minutes looking at words 2-3 times faster than you’d normally read them.
  • Use your index finger to guide your eyes as they fly across each line of words from left to right and top to bottom.
  • For now, do not worry about comprehension as this is a speed drill preparatory to reading and will pay off when applied to reading.
  • Plan to take short breaks, every 30 minutes or more.  Breaks could be as simple as either looking away from the page, blinking a few times, taking a sip of water or a short walk.

Because after 30 minutes of straight reading, the eyes and mind begin to slow down and wander.

Preview The Material/Book

As one usually does something better and quicker when doing it for the second or more time, so it is with reading. The first exposure to doing things require the most time and care. Given this, a student needs to give himself a feel of the material by previewing it:

Read the Abstract

If an abstract is available, read it. The abstract is short and compact summary and will provide key insights into the purpose, main points, method, findings, and conclusions. Then read the summary, if there is one.

READ the summary

  • If a nonfiction book summary (different from a an academic book report) is available read it to see what others thought was important, then Scan the reading materials.

Scan the reading materials

  • Skim the introductory, concluding, and or summary paragraphs to get a big picture understanding.
  • Scan the text from beginning to end while paying special attention to headings, subheadings, things in bold or large font and bullet points.
  • Identify transition sentences, examine images or graphs, and note the structure of the text.
  • Read the front and back cover, table of contents and inside flaps.

Strategic Approach

Strategically approach reading to ingest the material efficiently:

  • First, think of what you want to learn by reading the material? Write down some questions to be answered by the end.
  • From the preview, determine the author’s aim in writing the material.
  • Write your own goal. If your goal is more limited in scope than the author’s, find and read the pertinent sections only.
  • Since you are reading a nonfiction book, plan to read certain sections more slowly and carefully than you’d read a work of fiction

Don’t Read Words Singly

  • With the eye being able to span about 1.5 inches (4-5 words) at a time, relaxing your face and expanding your gaze helps you see blocks of words, instead of individual words as distinct units.
  • With good practice, your eyes begin to skip increasingly faster across the page.
  • On nearing the end of a line, allow your peripheral vision to see the last set of words so you can quickly scan across and down into the next line.
  • Do not sub-vocalize – the habit of pronouncing each word in your head as you read it and ‘hearing’ the word in your mind, takes more time than is necessary  and so slows you down
  • Avoid regressing while reading as it makes you lose the flow and structure of the text, thereby decreasing not just speed but comprehension, also, one re-reads when required only.
  • Check regression by using a pointer – your finger, pen or pencil while reading.
  • Note however that when using a pointer to read, the speed at which you read largely depends on the speed at which you move the pointer.

Don’t Read Every Section

  • Unless you’re reading something extremely important, skip the sections that aren’t relevant to your purpose.
  • Reading selectively, digesting only the main points of many texts.

Write A Summary.

  • When you finish reading, start writing the review. Summarize what you read then answer the questions written down before you started reading.
  •  If after the exercise you learn what you were hoping to learn, use some minutes to think and synthesize the information. Write down what you learned for later recall.

Create a mind map

  •   Talk about what you’ve read as it helps to internalize the stuff, enabling you to do and benefit from what you’ve learned.
  • Keep track of main ideas.
  • Take notes in a format that suits the way your mind processes information – in pictures, images, sounds, colors, events, etc.
  • Flip through the pages once more and jot down any other tasks/ideas that come up.

Once a reader attains the skill of speed-reading non-fiction materials or books, speed reading is adaptable to other reading materials like newspapers, letters, e-mails, proposals, periodicals, and reports.

Related References

Skimming, Scanning And Reading

Skimming, Scanning, and Reading
Skimming, Scanning, and Reading


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 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.


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.


  • 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 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

Tips and tricks to become an avid reader

Avid Reader
Avid Reader

An avid reader is a person that gets so enchanted in the book they’re examining, their general surroundings obscure and vanishes and they transform into the characters in the book they’re understanding, they are there in the recounted world they’re scrutinizing about.

An avid reader loves to scrutinize, paying little mind to what the class. They read, not because they have to, but instead in light of the way that it’s a need. It’s vital to their well-being. An avid reader gobbles up books like a sugary treat, persistently requiring all the more, neglecting to be satisfied. It looks like a marvelous, gigantic growing hole inside, a dim crevice, a monstrous savage that is perpetually discontent by only a solitary or a couple of books. An avid reader is obliged to continue scrutinizing until the point that the day they pass on. They get this shiver, this slant, this…helpless aching to READ and it never closes.

According to a survey, 28% of adult Americas had not read a single book. Many people spend their time surfing the internet and social media, some of them are busy in their routine life and they actually don’t want to read books. Book reading is very beneficial for our mind, it enhances our knowledge and increases our capabilities to problem-solving in better ways.

Here are some tips for becoming an avid reader.

Tips and tricks to become an avid reader

  • Find our your motivation

Motivation is a precious key. If you are keen towards your motivation than everything will be impressively less difficult. Examining will be something you do effortlessly; it will be your pleasure. On the inverse side, in case you don’t make them everything, will be fundamentally harder. Examining will feel more like errand than charm.

  • Look for topics of your interest

In case you couldn’t think less about it, you’re not going to value examining it. Why misuse your own specific time? This isn’t school; there is no test. There is no official examining list.

Each one of your friends adores Jane Austen? That doesn’t mean you have to love her. Potentially every one of your mates is into sparkly vampires, or energetic mystical performers, or valiant ladies with a thing for bolt based weaponry, yet… that is as of late not addressing you? Don’t worry about it. Start with what claims to you. What do you treasure examining? What do you venerate getting some answers concerning? What do you value doing? What kind of people do you value chatting with? What does focuses you never, ever turned out to be exhausted of?

Scrawl down two or three those and after that go on a book pursue.

  • Increase your curiosity.

If you are intrigued, you don’t need to drive yourself to examine. Or maybe, you should scrutinize because it will satisfy your advantage. To make your advantage, realize that there are many intriguing things in this world that you haven’t the foggiest. Your life will be significant all the more stimulating in case you find them. To be sure, even obviously debilitating things have captivating sides in case you tunnel adequately significant.

  • Show yourself to scrutinize in little tastes and furthermore in long swallows.

At whatever point you have sat still time, paying little respect to whether long or short, fill it with examining. Holding up in the pro’s office could be an average time to examine, so is holding up to stack onto your plane. It infers that you should reliably carry a book with you. Fortunately, that is definitely not hard to do these days: basically, place e-books into your tablet or PDA and you are set.

  • Turn off your television at night

The TV can attract you around night time when you’re exhausted and the likelihood of focusing gives off an impression of being undermining. Regardless, day by day screen time truly keeps you up and it’s adequately sitting still that you don’t see how drained you are. Examining, on the other hand, is an unprecedented way to deal with release up in the wake of a tedious day. No not as much as a few night times seven days, consider scrutinizing instead of sitting before the TV.

  • Pay visits to the library

Books can be expensive and after some time you can end up spending on books. Regardless, luckily, libraries give a scene to examine, and in addition, they empower access to a wide gathering of books that you don’t have to place assets into. If you have to research a particular subject, you can take a gander at a wide variety of books in regards to the issue without blowing a pack of cash.

Benefits of becoming an avid reader

  • It extends your perspective.

Scrutinizing causes you to see the world from another perspective. Notwithstanding different things, it causes you to anticipate new open entryways and risks. You will similarly have the ability to review a condition more decisively.

  • It supports you to be more creative.

By supporting your mind with an extensive variety of contemplations, there is a tolerable shot that your distinctive contemplations will cross-prepare and make fresh musings. You will end up being more imaginative in like manner.

  • It loosens up your mind.

Immersing yourself in a tolerable book looks like review a good film. It can take you to new universes. Such an undertaking is drawing in and loosening up for your mind.

  • Better ideas generating skills

Contemplations are extraordinary. Coherent and mechanical movements rely upon them. Contaminations and world issues are unwound with them. Contemplations can even change our lives.

When you read, you persistently open yourself to new insights. With each one of those insights spinning around your head, you may go and make your own one of a kind dazzling idea.

  • Better thinking

People who read can spot plans more quickly than the people who don’t read.

It keeps your cerebrum sharp and sustains neural associations with each new memory. Toward the day’s end, your mind twists up evidently more grounded and speedier in light of the fact that you read. Reading opens you up to new universes of believability. You may read about new endeavors or strategies for a living – things you never considered doing.

Reading can make you question what you need and re-sort out your targets. You may comprehend you require something you never considered.

On the off chance that you need to have a solid upper hand in this data age, there is no other path yet to read and read. As the world’s economy pushes increasingly toward learning based economy, so will the energy of information increment. You would be wise to develop it now before it’s past the point of no return.

Related References