Skimming is the most rudimentary type of reading. Its object is to familiarize you as quickly as possible with the material to be read. You may use it for entire books or for shorter sections. You leaf through the material looking at titles, subheadings, illustrations, maps, and charts. You are trying to become familiar with the subject matter. Remember, both speed and comprehension depend on familiarity. The more comfortable you are with the manner in which the material is presented, the faster you will move through it and the more you will retain. Two to three minutes is ample time for a chapter, ten to fifteen minutes for a book.
Skimming may also be used to search out certain short passages you have lost. Your eye should race over the pages looking for clues which will help you narrow down the probable location. Though you feel completely lost, the act of skimming will refresh your memory and lead you to the passage. Trust your memory. If it says upper left-hand corner, look there first. With practice you can develop a memory which will allow you to recall the exact location on a page of a piece of information. After that, patient speed will do the rest. Skimming before you start is valuable for any type of reading, even pleasure reading, except perhaps for mysteries.
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.