Skimming and scanning are the quick reading strategies. It is not reading in a real sense of the word rather it is running a quick look over the text or anything to let you understand the nature of it. However there is a big difference between skimming and scanning. Here we shall discuss skimming and scanning you will learn in next chapter.


What you mostly do when you open a new website? At the moment you are unaware of its contents and subject and then you gradually run your eyes over headings, few words in the paragraphs, images and navigations and finally within seconds you get to know which type of the site it is. Now what you have done is skimming. You have not read anything as the reading implies rather you had a quick look. Skimming is to have a quick look over the contents so that you may understand the nature of that thing.

Look at some other examples

Suppose you have a newspaper article and what you do first is to look for whether or not it should be read. Now what will you do for that? Of course you will read the title, sub-headings (if any), few words from the paragraphs and photographs (if any). And it is after that you decide either to read it or not.
You are at the bookstall and want to buy any book of your interest. Now what you do is to pick a book by reading its title, then you run a quick look over the list of contents, see headings of the chapters, sub-headings (if any) an so forth.

In both above examples what you are doing is skimming.

Definition of skimming

Now we can understand what skimming is. It is to have a quick look over the contents in order to understand and ascertain the general nature of things. Formal reading comes after that.

Note: Contents mean headings, sub-headings, images, graphs, bold, italicized and underline words.

Things that help skimming

Things that help skimming maybe anything that is conspicuous and gives quick information about the nature of a text, book, website, etc. Following is the list of such helping material.


This is the first thing you look at while skimming because title is the major thing that helps explain the contents in a shortest possible time.


Headings are different from the title. Book has one title and every chapter begins with headings.


Sub-headings best explain the nature of contents. Once you go through them you get the whole sketch. Sometimes there are no sub-headings, like; newspaper articles, short stories, novels, dramas etc. In this case other things are helpful.


In the case of websites and newspaper articles images are found everywhere. Only looking at them and reading a short description under them will do.

Bold, italicized and underline words and phrases

Bold, italicized and underline words are specially treated, so they give vital information about the text, website or book. By just running your eyes over them will give you more information in less time than reading the whole paragraphs.

Few concluding words from the last paragraph

Last paragraph usually sum up and contain the gist, so it is important if you go through few words.

Now if you opened this page (the webpage on your computer screen) for the first time and you want to see what it is about, what will you do? Of course you will read the title, headings and sub-headings and then you will decide whether this webpage is useful for you or not, and once decided you will read or reject it.