In 4-04, you learned that an abstract can give an overview of the main points. Despite having an abstract to give the general overview and main points, if you decide to use the article, you will need to skim and scan the article for more in-depth information. This will help you choose which parts of the text to read closely.

Skimming and scanning are useful reading techniques when approaching an academic text. If you are writing an exam or need to cover a large amount of information in a relatively short time, these two methods can help you process a large amount of information quickly and efficiently.


Skimming is a technique most often used as a form of pre-reading and involves quickly looking over material and actively looking for the general overview and main ideas. It is done using the following sequence of steps:

  • Read the title.
  • Read the first paragraph.
  • Read any headings.
  • Take note of any images, charts or graphs.
  • Read the first and/or last sentence of each paragraph.
  • Take note of any words that are bolded, underlined, or italicized.
  • Take note of any numbers that look significant, such as dates or figures.
  • Read the final paragraph.


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