Skimming And Scanning: How To Use Them To Become A Better Reader?

Society 5 Mins Read Debamalya Mukherjee 21 Sep 2023
Skimming And Scanning

Skimming and scanning are two reading techniques that people use to quickly gather information from written material. They are especially useful when you need to locate specific information or get a general understanding of a text without reading every word in detail.

Therefore, let’s explore each technique in detail. I will also be explaining how to use skimming and scanning in detail, so read this post till the end!

What Is Skimming?

What Is Skimming

Skimming reading (or skim reading) involves quickly glancing over a text to get a general sense of its content. When you skim, you are not reading every word but instead looking for key information such as the main ideas, headings, subheadings, and any bold or italicized text. You can use it to complete your homework alongside apps like Homeworkify

Here are some skim tips to help you understand how skimming and scanning work:

  • Read the title: Start by reading the title of the text or the section you’re interested in. This can give you an initial idea of the topic.
  • Read headings and subheadings: Scan through the headings and subheadings to identify the main topics or sections in the text.
  • Look at the first and last sentences of paragraphs: Read the first and last sentences of each paragraph, as these often contain the main points or topic sentences.
  • Pay attention to formatting: Bold, italicized, or underlined text, as well as bullet points and lists, can indicate important information.
  • Read captions and graphics: If the text includes images, charts, or diagrams, read any captions or labels associated with them, as they may provide key information.
  • Don’t get bogged down: Avoid spending too much time on any one section. Skimming is about getting a quick overview, not reading every word.

Skimming and scanning are useful when deciding if a text is worth reading in more detail or when you’re trying to quickly grasp the main points of a longer document.

What Is Scanning?

What Is Scanning

Scanning reading is a technique used to locate specific pieces of information within a text, such as a name, date, or keyword. It involves a more focused and systematic approach compared to skimming. 

Here are some tips to scan effectively (similar to getting insights on psychic readings):

  • Identify what you’re looking for: Have a clear idea of the specific information you need to find. This could be a word, phrase, number, or any specific detail.
  • Move your eyes quickly: Scan the text line by line, moving your eyes rapidly from left to right. Focus on each line for just a fraction of a second, looking for the specific information you seek.
  • Use markers: As you scan, use your finger, a pen, or a piece of paper to guide your eyes and help you stay on track. This can prevent you from accidentally skipping over the relevant information.
  • Ignore irrelevant text: If a line or section of the text does not contain the information you’re searching for, move on quickly.
  • Be patient and persistent: Scanning may take some time, especially in longer texts. Stay focused on your goal and keep scanning until you find the desired information.

Skimming and scanning are valuable when you have a specific question or need to quickly find particular details within a text quickly. You can use it in tasks like researching, data extraction, or finding specific instructions in a document.

Skimming And Scanning Difference

Skimming And Scanning Difference

Skimming and scanning are very similar reading techniques, which are distinguished by only one factor – your intent.

Skimming techniques aim to provide you with a brief overview of what you are reading right now. On the other hand, scanning involves quickly reading something to find specific information. Therefore, you can use skimming first to understand what you are reading, followed by scanning to learn specific parts of it by heart.

For example, you can skim the “About Us” page of Apple to gain information about them. Then, you may scan the page to find out interesting facts about Apple.

When And How To Use Skimming?

When And How To Use Skimming

Let’s explore some specific examples of when and how to use skimming and scanning in various real-life situations:

Newspaper Articles

When you want to quickly catch up on current events or find articles of interest, skimming and scanning newspapers is a good way to save time.

Start by reading the headlines and subheadings to identify the main stories. Then, glance through the first few sentences of each article to get a sense of the topic and main points. Skimming allows you to decide which articles are worth reading in more detail.

Textbook Selection

If you need to decide which chapters or sections of a textbook are most relevant to your research or study, try using skimming and scanning methods.

Read the chapter titles, headings, and subheadings to understand the structure of the book. Glance at the introduction and conclusion of each chapter to determine if they cover the topics you’re interested in. Skimming helps you prioritize your reading.

Product Reviews Online

When you are considering buying a product and want to get a quick overview of its pros and cons, skimming and scanning help a lot.

Look for summary sections, bullet points, or pros and cons lists within product reviews. Skim through these sections to gather key information about the product’s features and user experiences. Skimming helps you make an informed decision without reading every review in detail.

Researching In Academic Journals

You should use skimming and scanning when you’re conducting research and need to find topic-related articles or information.

Use relevant keywords or phrases to guide your scanning process. Quickly scan the abstracts, headings, and subheadings of articles in academic journals. If an article seems promising, scan through the introduction and conclusion for relevance. Scanning allows you to locate and extract specific research findings efficiently.

If you try to review a legal contract or document and need to locate specific clauses or terms, skimming and scanning will work wonders.

Identify the keywords or phrases you’re interested in, such as “termination clause” or “payment terms.” Then, systematically scan through the document, focusing on sections that may contain the relevant information. Use markers like a pen or highlighter to emphasize important clauses. Scanning helps ensure you don’t miss critical details in legal documents.

Searching For Contact Information

Use skimming and scanning if you need to find a specific person’s contact information in a lengthy contact directory.

Begin by identifying the person’s name and any other identifying details (e.g., company, department). Then, systematically scan through the list, looking for the name and associated contact details. Scanning lets you quickly locate the information you need without reading every entry.


In these examples, skimming and scanning techniques are tailored to specific tasks and objectives. Skimming provides a quick overview to help you decide what to focus on, while scanning enables you to pinpoint specific information efficiently. 

Using these techniques effectively saves time and extracts the most relevant information from any written material.

Let me know in the comments how skimming and scanning helped you out!

More Resources:

Debamalya is a professional content writer from Kolkata, India. Constantly improving himself in this industry for more than three years, he has amassed immense knowledge regarding his niches of writing tech and gaming articles. He loves spending time with his cats, along with playing every new PC action game as soon as possible.

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