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Skimming & Scanning. SKIMMING.

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  • Skimming is used to quickly identify the main ideas of a text. When you read the newspaper, you're probably not reading it word-by-word, instead you're scanning the text. Skimming is done at a speed three to four times faster than normal reading. People often skim when they have lots of material to read in a limited amount of time. Use skimming when you want to see if an article may be of interest in your research.
  • There are many strategies that can be used when skimming. Some people read the first and last paragraphs using headings, summarizes and other organizers as they move down the page or screen. You might read the title, subtitles, subheading, and illustrations. Consider reading the first sentence of each paragraph. This technique is useful when you're seeking specific information rather than reading for comprehension. Skimming works well to find dates, names, and places. It might be used to review graphs, tables, and charts.

You may want to skim:

Newspaper or magazine article

Book covers in a bookstore (so you can find out if you want to buy the book).

Library books (so you can find out if they have the information you need).

Mystery, detective, or other novels.


Skimming for point of view

  • Skimming is helpful when you want to find out quickly about the writer. You may want to find out what the writer thinks about something. This is the writer’s point of view.
  • When you want to know the writer’s point of view, you do not need to read everything. You need to read only a few important words.


Read this paragraph quickly. Answer the following question by putting a checkmark (√ ) beside the answer.

  • Dogs are often a problem at home. Many dogs are noisy and dirty. They may even be dangerous for small children.

Is this writer for against dogs at home?

For _____ Against _√_____

  • You do not need to read all the sentences to learn this. You only have to read the words “problem”, “noisy”, “dirty” and “dangerous”. From those words you can tell writer’s point of view. This writer is against dogs at home.


  • 1. Candy is not good for your teeth. It is especially for children’s teeth. If children eat a lot of candy, they will have problems later.
  • For _____ Against_____
  • 2. Large cars can cause problems. They are more difficult to park than small cars. They also use more gas.
  • For_____ Against_____
  • 3. In San Francisco, the air always a comfortable temperature. It is never too hot or too cold. It is perfect weather all year.
  • For_____ Against_____

Skimming for pattern of organization

  • Sometimes you need to find out quickly how a book or article is organized. You want to know is pattern. You do not need to know the details for this. You do not need to read all the words. You have to read only the signal words. They will you the pattern.


A whale eats a lot of ocean food everyday. That is because it is a very large animal.

Listing ___Time order____ Cause/effect_ √ _ Comparison___

The signal word is “because”. The pattern is cause and effect.


Exercise 1

Read the following paragraphs quickly. Read only to find the pattern of organization. Put a checkmark beside the best answer. Try to finish the exercise in less than 60 seconds.

1. This book has a lot of information about Poland. First it tells about the history. It also explains how to travel around the country. Finally, it lists some interesting places to visit.

Listing ____Time order _____ Cause/effect ____Comparison ___

2. A parakeet is small birds than lives in tropical forests. The parrot is similar to a parakeet, but it is larger. Both birds sometimes can learn how to say words.

Listing _____ Time order _____ Cause/effect _____ Comparison ___

3. Some kinds of birds cannot fly. The penguin is one of these birds. It lives mostly in the very cold Antarctic climate. Another kind of bird that cannot fly is the ostrich. It is lives in Africa.

Listing _____ Time order _____ Cause/effect _____ Comparison _____



  • What is Scanning?

Scanning is very fast reading. When you scan, you skip over many words. You look for some information as quickly as you can.

  • Scanning is especially important for improving your reading. Many students try to read every word when they read, so they read very slowly. You often do not need to read every word. If you learn to scan, you can learn to read and understand faster.


  • Read each question and then scan the table of contents to find the answers. Work as fast as you scan.
  • How many Features are there in the magazine?
  • What is the title of article on noise pollution?
  • On what page can you read about Long take?
  • How many departments are there in the magazine?
  • Does this magazine have any poetry? On what page?
  • On what page can you read about birds?
  • Does this magazine have an editor? What is his or her name?
  • On what page can you read freshwater ponds?
  • What is the title of the article by Betsy Colburn?
  • On what page is the article by Deborah Knight?

Scanning a timetable


When you travel, you often need to scan a timetable.

Scan the timetable to answer these questions. Work fast!

1. What time(s) does the ferry depart from Seattle?

2. What time(s) does the ferry depart from Victoria?

3. Can you take the ferry on a Wednesday in March or April?

4. During which months are there two ferry trips every day?

5. During which months are there ferry trips only on the weekends?

6. How much is a round-trip ticket for a student?

7. How much would a father and two little children pay for round-trip tickets.

8. What is the latest time that you can take a ferry from Victoria to Seattle in July?

9. How long does the ferry take to travel from Seattle to Victoria?

10. Can you take a ferry from Victoria at 4:20 P.M. in October?

Now you write a question about this timetable.


Scanning a newspaper story

Exercise 5

Scan the news story below to find the answers to these questions. Work fast.

How many stores were damaged in the fire?

In which store did the fire (blaze) start?

What time did the fire start?

Where is the shopping center?

Now you write a question about this news article.


________________________Scanning a newspaper story