Skimming is the process of quickly viewing a section of text to get a general impression of the author's main argument, themes or ideas. There are three types of skimming: preview, overview, and review.
Most often followed by a second skimming or a thorough reading, preview skimming is used
- in selecting a book.
- in surveying a chapter before reading or studying.
- in finding appropriate material for use in research.
- in sorting through correspondence before answering it.
You preview in an effort to learn about the ideas presented and the structure of their development.
Method: Read the first paragraph, and the headings and first sentences of later paragraphs and sections.
You use overview skimming to sample the reading material more thoroughly than you do in a preview, as you may not intend to read the material at a later time.
Method: As you do in preview skimming, you would read the first paragraph, the headings and first sentences of paragraphs and sections, but in addition, as you alternately read and skim, you alert yourself to the structure and content of the material through an awareness of paragraph patterns, thought transitions, and clue words.
This awareness will help you to understand the content, to recall more information, and to see relationships more clearly and quickly.
Your purpose with review skimming is to re-familiarise yourself with material you have previously read thoroughly or skimmed.
Method: Prepare yourself by trying to remember as many of the ideas and details clearly. It may be that you already have a good grasp of the main ideas and will be stopping primarily to note significant details - names, places, terms, etc. You may be trying to establish in your mind a sequence of events or a procedure, or you may be attempting to fill in a skeleton outline to clarify the structure of the whole.
Familiarity with the material will enable you to skim over a great deal of it, stopping only when necessary.