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Speed Reading Techniques: Skimming and Scanning
A How-to Guide
Skimming and scanning are the two speed reading techniques that everyone needs to possess. This guide will explain the difference in the two skills, when to use each technique, and how to do them.
Skimming and scanning are not the same as reading. Skimming should be done as a pre-reading activity and scanning as a post-reading activity. With so much reading required in today’s world, you may wonder shy you need to engage an article three times in three different ways. Here’s why: skimming allows you to determine if you even need to read the article at all. If you decide after skimming that you do need to read it, then do so at your normal, natural speed. Even so, it is not likely that you will retain all the information included in the article; this is where scanning comes into play. Scanning is used to quickly locate the specific information you need later for a report, discussion, etc.
Why do it: to quickly assess the value of the article and determine if it is worth your time and energy to spend any more time with it.
How to do it:
1. Read the title
2. Read the introduction
3. Read all the subheadings and think about how they are related to one another and to the title
4. Read the first sentence in each paragraph. You may also need to read the last sentence in each paragraph depending on the style of writing.
5. Go back through the text looking for clues as to content and importance. Such clues include:
· words that answer who, what, when where, why and how
· proper nouns
· adjectives such as best, worst, most, least, etc.
· changes in font such as italics, underlining, boldface, etc.
6. Read the last paragraph
After skimming you should be able to know the general ideas of what the article is about and be able to determine if it fits your needs or not. If not, let it go. You’re done. Move on to the next article.
Why do it: to find a specific fact or piece of information that you need for something else.
How to do it:
1. Remember what it is you are looking for so you will not be distracted by other pieces of information
2. Anticipate how the information looks – is it identified by numbers, italics, proper nouns, etc.
3. Run your eyes over several lines at one time
4. When you find the information you are looking for, focus your eyes and attention there and read the entire sentence. You may also need to read the sentence before and after as well.
When you understand what skimming and scanning are and how to use these techniques, you can manage a large amount of text in a relatively short amount of time. Skimming and scanning skills allow you to use your time both efficiently and effectively.
Adapted from: http://riverwrites.hubpages.com/hub/Speed-Reading-Techniques-Skimming-and-Scanning