In everyday life, we have to read many texts ranging from books, newspapers, pamphlets, journals to e-mails.

Students have to read more in order to understand the syllabus.

Whether reading is done for academic or non-academic purposes, it requires certain skills to get desired information.

Many times, it is impossible to read the whole text due to various reasons.

Most of the times, of course, reason is shortage of time.

What other reasons do you have very often?

Anyways, in such situations there are certain techniques that come to help. There are certain reading skills that are employed by readers in order to get the desired information from text.

These skills include:

  1. Skimming – reading quickly, to get the general idea.
  2. Scanning – Searching for specific information.
  3. Extensive reading – to improve your general knowledge.
  4. Intensive reading – accurate reading for detail.


What is Skimming?

“To read quickly to get the general idea of a passage”

The technique you use when you’re going through a newspaper or magazine, you read quickly to get the main points and skip over the detail. It’s useful to skim:

  • to preview a passage before you read it in detail.
  • to refresh your understanding of a passage after you’ve read it in detail.
  • Use skimming when you’re trying to decide if a book in the library or bookshop is right for you.
  • Simply to see what the text is about.
  • Glancing through the text to find the gist.
  • To satisfy a general curiosity.
  • Not to find answers to particular questions.
  • To summarize longer texts.

And Skimming helps to understand

  • Overall purpose
  • Central idea
  • Organizational pattern
  • Main point
  • Author’s intention-to describe, narrate, report, explain, discuss etc.

While you are reading a newspaper, you are skimming. You do not need to read every word; you can just skim it to get a main idea of what the article is about. You can use the headline, photograph, and caption to decide if you are going to read further into a particular article or skip it and keep on searching.

Can you think of a few more instances of the use of skimming in your daily life?

How to SKIM?

Reading and comprehension

Skimming a book, article or webpage only gives the reader a general idea of its contents. Nuances, vital details and caveats are easily missed. This can produce a confused or misleading impression. Skimming works well when dealing with clear subjects that lend themselves to a general overview, such as a chronological description of an event. Skimming is far less effective in making sense of complex discussions or detailed arguments.


Search for specific information (key words}

Reading and comprehension

Scanning is used to find a particular piece of information. You run through the text looking for the specific type of information. Use can scan a schedule, meeting plan, etc. for a specific detail you need. If you don’t understand words or phrases, don’t worry while you scan.


  • A train / airplane schedule.
  • The “Cinema Today” section of your newspaper.
  • A conference guide.


Scanning is rapidly running your eyes over the text in order to locate specific details.

    Steps for scanning:




Extensive reading is for general knowledge of articles and reading extensive writings for pleasure, as well as business writings. Extensive reading skills improves general understanding of business books.


  • Marketing strategy Books.
  • A novel you read.
  • Magazine articles.


Intensive reading is for extracting specific intel. It is accurate reading for information. Intensive reading skills are to get the info of a specific case. In this case, it is important that you understand each word, number or fact.


  • A bookkeeping report.
  • An insurance claim.
  • A contract.


Skim the text, what does it seem to be about? Does the design of the text give any idea? See what type of book is it? Make Sensible guess for the meaning of the unknown words in that article.


Think what the most important portions of your writing are. Get a copy of text or on photocopy for yourself to do so.
Use different colors, if you are a visual learner, it will be helpful to highlight different aspects of what you’re reading.


Note the main headings as you read. Use one or two keywords for each point. When you don’t want to mark the text, keep a folder of notes you make while reading.

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I am a student of National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Islamabad studying Mechanical Engineering. I am also a Content Writer and know little bit about photo and video editing.