There are different styles of reading for different situations. The technique you choose will depend on the purpose for reading. For example, you might be reading for enjoyment, information, or to complete a task. If you are exploring or reviewing, you might skim a document. If you're searching for information, you might scan for a particular word. Skimming and scanning are reading techniques that use rapid eye movement and keywords to move quickly through text for slightly different purposes. Many people consider skimming and scanning search techniques rather than reading strategies. However when reading large volumes of information, they may be more practical than reading. For example, you might be searching for specific information, looking for clues, or reviewing information.
Skimming is used to quickly identify the main ideas of a text. When you read the newspaper, you're probably not reading it word-by-word, instead you're scanning the text. Skimming is done at a speed three to four times faster than normal reading. People often skim when they have lots of material to read in a limited amount of time. Use skimming in previewing (reading before you read), reviewing (reading after you read), determining the main idea from a long selection you don't wish to read, or when trying to find source material for a research paper. Skimming can save you hours of laborious reading. Skimming can tell you enough about the general idea and tone of the material, as well as its gross similarity or difference from other sources, to know if you need to read it at all.
Good skimmers do not skim everything at the same rate or give equal attention to everything. While skimming is always faster than your normal reading speed, you should slow down in the following situations:
· When you skim introductory and concluding paragraphs
· When you skim topic sentences
· When you find an unfamiliar word
· When the material is very complicated
Scanning is a technique you often use when looking up a word in the telephone book or dictionary. You search for key words or ideas. Scanning involves moving your eyes quickly down the page seeking specific words and phrases. Use scanning in research to find particular facts, to study fact-heavy topics, and to answer questions requiring factual support. Scanning is also used when you first find a resource to determine whether it will answer your questions. In fact when we are scanning, we are zipping through the whole source, homing in on the important thing. Scanning gives us a feel for the whole item; it works like a powerful filter and saves us time. In practice, scanning is a particularly useful technique for reading web pages. For example, we scan Google search results rapidly checking for relevant keywords. We glance at the titles and summaries searching for phrases or keywords that relate to our search.
How to Skim:
· Read the title.
· Read the introduction or the first paragraph.
· Read the first sentence of each paragraph.
· Read any headings and sub-headings.
· Notice any pictures, charts, or graphs.
· Notice any italicized or boldface words or phrases.
· Read the summary or last paragraph.
How to Scan:
· State the specific information you are looking for.
· When scanning, look for the author's use of organizers such as numbers, letters, steps, or the words, first, second, or next. Look for words that are bold faced, italics, or in a different font size, style, or color. Sometimes the author will put key ideas in the margin.
· Try to anticipate how the answer will appear and what clues you might use to help you locate the answer. For example, if you were looking for a certain date, you would quickly read the paragraph looking only for numbers.
· Use headings and any other aids that will help you identify which sections might contain the information you are looking for.
· Selectively read and skip through sections of the passage.