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What Is The Best Use Of Skimming (For Reading)?

Have you ever had to research a specific topic and were faced with a vast amount of reading material to read through but did not have the time!  Recently I have, and this led me to explore speed-reading techniques.  And so, I discovered Skimming!

The best use of skimming for reading is to locate specific information in a passage in a short period.  It is less time-consuming as not all the words in paragraphs or sections are read, but Skimming still allows for a general idea and understanding of the text.

Skimming through text in a short amount of time sounds like the perfect solution to those dreaded hours of reading through volumes of printed material.  But what is skimming for reading, and how do I effectively apply it to my research or newspaper articles?

What Is The Best Use Of Skimming (For Reading)?

What Is Skimming For Reading?

Skimming is a technique of speed reading.   The primary purpose of Skimming is to rapidly read a passage of text without reading all the words to understand the general idea or overview of the reading piece.  Skimming requires a high reading level and word recognition ability necessary to recognize fragments of important information and keywords quickly.  

Skimming requires concentration and a certain amount of practice to comprehend the main ideas of the text better.  When skimming for reading, parts of paragraphs or whole sentences, minor details, data, and less important content are selected.  Skimming is therefore not recommended for in-depth understanding or analysis.

Skimming is not merely a half-hearted attempt at quickly glancing through a text but instead is a focused and deliberate choice to understand the main ideas.  You should be able to skim twice as fast as your usual reading rate as your brain can understand a word quicker than you can say it.

What Are The Uses Of Skimming For Reading?

The Best Use Is:

  • Skimming saves you long hours of laborious reading while you locate specific information in a passage.  When skimming, not all words are read, but the focus is on reading certain lines and headings while gaining knowledge of the general idea of the material before you read it. 

This technique is most useful when reading more than one article or chapter to reach an understanding or gist of the reading material.

Other Uses Are:

  • Allows you to select and reject materials for a particular purpose.  By skimming, you will know if the material is worth reading or if it is not suitable for the intended purpose.

Researchers may skim through articles or passages of text to find relevant information for their research.

  • By using Skimming, you can reread selected words or lines to refresh the content to memory. 

Students may skim class notes or chapters in textbooks before a test.

What Is The Best Use Of Skimming (For Reading)?

How To Effectively Skim For Reading?

Improving efficiency and productivity can be achieved when this speed-reading technique is used correctly.

What Is The Method And Processes Of Skimming For Reading?

A method sometimes used for Skimming is Meta guiding, which is visual guiding of the eye using a finger or a pointer (a pen) to follow and move faster along the length of the text.  It encourages the eye to move quickly over the material.

Because reading does involve comprehension, Skimming is done through multiple reading processes:-

Preview Skimming

Preview skimming is when you get a glimpse of the general idea of the material before you read it.  To do this type of Skimming, read the first paragraph and the headings and then read the first sentence in all other paragraphs and sections.

You would use preview skimming to select a book, find suitable research material, sort through correspondence before answering it, and scout paragraphs before studying.  A second read most often follows preview skimming.

Overview Skimming

When you use overview skimming, you will read more thoroughly, so you will not need to reread the material later.  Read the first paragraph, the headings, and the first sentence of paragraphs and sections as you would for Preview Skimming. In addition, as you read, skim the material for bulleted or numbered lists, boldface or italic type, graphs, tables, or pictures.

Review Skimming

Review Skimming Is to familiarize yourself with the material you have previously read and go back over it as a  means of study and review.

You might already have a good grasp of the main idea, and now you are taking note of more important details such as names, places, dates, etc.  You will be able to skim over a great deal, only stopping when you come across the important details.

When Should You Use Skimming For Reading?

Not all reading material is suitable for Skimming.  Novels, poetry, and short stories or texts that do not have features such as tables, headings, bullet points, or boldface type are not suited to Skimming. Readers that have these features are non-fiction texts, essays, and journal articles and are better suited. 

Skimming is used for research by identifying and evaluating important information.  Depending on the specifics of your reading material, such as whether further detailed information is required, will help you decide if you can skim or read more thoroughly.


What Are The Benefits of Skimming for Reading

  • Learning to skim rapidly improves average reading speed – students may have several passages to read for assignments, and if they need to read every word, there will not be enough time for studying what they have read.
  • When time is limited, skimming through news articles and not reading all sentences in the text will still keep you informed of the world around you.
  • Skimming through a particular text gives you a general understanding, and the similarity or differences from other reading material, so you can decide if it is worth the read or not.
What Is The Best Use Of Skimming (For Reading)?

Quick Guidelines To Follow When Using Skimming For Reading?

A few quick guidelines for more effective use of skimming for reading are:

  1. Read the title
  2. Read the introduction (usually, you will find the main idea of the text). Read the paragraph, ultimately searching for sub-headings for each section.
  3. In each remaining paragraph read the first sentence to find the main idea in these passages.
  4. Read the last sentence of each paragraph – sometimes the author begins the first sentence of the section with a question, and the main idea or answer should be in the last sentence.
  5. Skim the text for clue words such as what, when, why, where, and how.  Also, look for proper nouns and unusual words.
  6. Read the final paragraph thoroughly – this is usually the conclusion or summary of the reading material.


In business or study there is often a need to get through texts quickly and effectively. Learning to skim read or scan read can help with this. Especially at university where a lot of reading for gist needs to be done.

Skimming as a speed-reading technique is best used to locate specific information in a passage within a short period, but still allows you to understand the main idea of the reading material.

Skimming is effective when reading non-fiction texts, essays, journal articles, and any reading material that does not require analysis or in-depth detail.






I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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