Efficient readers use reading strategies to save time and cover a lot of ground. Depending on your purpose for reading, you should choose one or more of the main strategies:
Gaining an overview gives you an idea of what the text is about and alerts you to where the information you need is. Gain an overview by reading only the parts of the text that 'jump out at you', like parts with changed print and graphics. Changed print, like bold, italics, underlined or CAPITAL LETTERS tells you that something is important. Graphics include diagrams, maps, graphs, cartoons or photos and can give you a lot of information relatively quickly.
Skimming involves running your eye very quickly over large chunks of text. It is different from gaining an overview, because when skimming you deal with the standard print. You are trying to pick up some of the main ideas without paying attention to detail. It is a fast process. A single chapter should take only a few minutes. You would choose to skim read if there is very little changed print to gain an overview of a text. Skimming adds further information to an overview.
Scanning is sweeping your eyes (like radar) over part of a text to find specific pieces of information. You know how to do this; for example, if you are at the train station you scan the timetable to find the next train—you don't start at the beginning and read all the information!
Intensive reading is detailed, focused, 'study' reading of important pages or chapters. To read intensively:
Textbooks are designed to teach students the main ideas in a field, and which most scholars agree upon, rather than arguing an individual point of view. You need to become very familiar with the way your text books are organised:
You will most likely be looking for information about some specific topic
Journals are collections of articles published one or more times each year. In print, a journal looks like a little book (but you are most likely to access journal articles online through the library’s databases). Articles can also be collected as chapters in books compiled by an editor, where each chapter, by a different author(s), discuss some aspect of a common theme.
You will need to become familiar with the way research articles are organised.
You need to make decisions about the relevance of what you read.
Select only those articles or chapters that relate directly to your topic for further in-depth reading.
Reports begin with a Summary, sometimes called an Executive Summary, so that you can get an overview before plunging into the Introduction, Discussion, Conclusion, and Recommendations.
4min video explaining how to use a process called SQ4R to maximise retention and understanding.
Another 4min video explaining how to use a process called SQ4R to maximise on retention and understanding.
Different strategies you can apply to your reading, depending on your goal: Previewing, Skimming, Scanning, Detailed Reading