Skimming and scanning are two specific speed reading techniques, which enable you to cover a vast amount of material very rapidly. These techniques are similar in process but different in purpose. Both requires specific step to be followed.

Skimming is a method of rapidly moving the eyes over text with the purpose of getting only the main ideas and a general overview of the content. Skimming is useful in three different situations.

Pre-reading- Skimming is more thorough than simple previewing and can give a more accurate picture of text to be read later.

Reviewing- Skimming is useful for reviewing text already read.

Reading- Skimming is most often used for quickly reading material that, for any number of reasons, does not need more detailed attention.

Steps in skimming an article:

  • Read the title. It is the shortest possible summary of content.
  • Read the introduction or lead in paragraph.
  • Read the first paragraph completely.
  • If there are subheadings, read each one looking for relationships among them.
  • Read the first sentence of each remaining paragraph.
  1. The main idea of most paragraphs appears in the first sentence.
  2. If the authors’ pattern is to begin with a question or an anecdote, you may find the last sentence more valuable.
  3. Clue words that answer who, what, when, how, now.
  4. Proper nouns
  5. Unusual words especially if capitalized
  6. Enumerations
  7. Qualifying adjectives
  8. Typographical clues-italics, bold face, underlined.
  • Dip into the text looking for:
  • Read the final paragraph completely
  • Mastering the art of skimming requires you to use it as frequently as possible.
  • Skimming can usually be accomplished at about 1000 words per minute.


  • Rapidly covers a great deal of material in order to locate a specific fact or piece of information.
  • Scanning is very useful for finding a specific name, date, statistic, or fact without reading the entire article.
  • Steps in scanning an article:
  1. Keep in mind at all times what it is you are searching for.
  2. Anticipate in what form the information is likely to appear: numbers, proper nouns, etc.
  3. Let your eyes run rapidly over several lines of print at a time.
  4. When you find the sentence that has the information you seek, read the entire sentence.
  • In scanning, you must be willing to skip over large sections of text without reading or understanding them.
  • Scanning can be done at 1500 or words per minute.

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