Skimming vs. Scanning

Apr 11, 2018

Skimming vs. Scanning

Skimming refers to looking over a text quickly (without reading word for word) to get the general idea of what the text is about. When we skim, we usually:

Read the title and look at any accompanying visuals.

Read the beginning and end of an article, ignoring the details.

Read just the first sentence of every paragraph.

Scanning refers to looking through a text very quickly to find specific details. For example, when we are searching for a telephone number in a directory, we scan the page for the name of the specific person we are looking for. When we scan, we usually:

Have an idea what information we want from the text, and look for content words or visual clues that signal that information.

Read in blocks of words rather than word by word.

When scanning, some people find it helpful to run their finger down the middle of the text while their eyes move back and forth to quickly find the information they are looking for.