What is your purpose?
First, ask yourself: what is your purpose?
- Reading from start to finish
- Skimming only for what you need.
- Skimming a chapter/section.
- Searching for information/statistics about something specific.
- Annotate and mark (sparingly) sections of the text to easily recall important or interesting ideas
- Check your predictions and find answers to posed questions
- Use headings and transition words to identify relationships in the text
- Create a vocabulary list of other unfamiliar words to define later
- Try to infer unfamiliar words’ meanings by identifying their relationship to the main idea
- Connect the text to what you already know about the topic
- Take breaks (split the text into segments if necessary)
- Sample annotated texts – Journal article · Book chapter excerpt
- Summarize the text in your own words (note what you learned, impressions, and reactions) in an outline, concept map, or matrix (for several texts)
- Talk to someone about the author’s ideas to check your comprehension
- Identify and reread difficult parts of the text
- Define words on your vocabulary list (try a learner’s dictionary) and practice using them
- Sample graphic organizers – Concept map · Literature review matrix
Previewing, skimming, scanning, intensive reading
1. Previewing the text to get an overview
What is it? Previewing a text means that you get an idea of what it is about without reading the main body of the text.
When to use it: to help you decide whether a book or journal is useful for your purpose; to get a general sense of the article structure, to help you locate relevant information; to help you to identify the sections of the text you may need to read and the sections you can omit.
To preview, start by reading:
- the title and author details
- the abstract (if there is one)
- then read only the parts that ‘jump out’; that is: main headings and subheadings, chapter summaries, any highlighted text etc.
- examine any illustrations, graphs, tables or diagrams and their captions, as these usually summarise the content of large slabs of text
- the first sentence in each paragraph