As it is already mentioned in skimming section that skimming and scanning are the quick reading strategies rather they are not the part of reading as the word implies. Here we shall define scanning and its uses with all the relevant examples.

Difference between skimming and scanning

Skimming is to get information about the overall article, website or book by running your eye over the contents whereas scanning is just running your eyes over the contents for any particular information. In scanning you are finding something.


Scanning is the quick reading strategy to look for certain information. Now let’s suppose, you need to look for the latest models of Q mobile on the internet. What you usually do is to go on and type “the latest models of Q mobile”. When the list is displayed, here starts your scanning. You just run your eyes over the results for the most suitable website to visit for information you need. Now what you are doing is scanning. Hence scanning is a quick look for the desired information.

Some other examples of scanning

There can be many such examples. If you are given a newspaper and asked to find out the news related to income tax. Now what you do is to run your eyes over the captions in order to find the desired information, and by doing so you are scanning the newspaper.
In case there is a comprehension question in the paper where there is a big article and few related questions at the end of it. The article relates to 9/11 and there is the question, “Where did Bush deliver his first speech after the event of 9/11?” Now what you do? You just have a quick look for that information in the article, and when you do it you are of course scanning the article.
You are going to airport to collect your friend who is coming from Australia. When you get there what you usually do is to see the flight schedule, and out of many flights you just run your eyes for the flight that is coming from Australia. What you did is scanning.

In above examples you are looking for certain information in text, website or flight schedule, hence you are scanning. You see when you are scanning there is something in your mind and you just look for that and don’t bother about anything else.

Things that help scanning

Things that help scanning are of course things that catch your eyes.

Scanning on computer is the easiest thing. If you want to download anything and the webpage is too messy that it’s hard to find download link, you just go to find option (or press Ctrl F) and write “download”. All download-words will be highlighted.

Numerals too are easy to find. If you are looking for the date, year or any other number it is conspicuous and you can easily detect it in the text.

Headings can also be very useful. They give you an idea whether or not the text under them carries the desire information.

Now if you are looking for the method of scanning and you just opened this page (the webpage on your computer screen) for the first time, where will you go and why? Of course you will jump to the text the follows the heading, “Things that help scanning” and why you do it, because you scanned this webpage. So this is how scanning make things easier and it is the daily routine. The formal reading come later.

Watch the video