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Sound Writing

Subsection 2.1.3 Skimming

In general, the more actively and patiently you approach a text, the more comprehensive your reading will be. However, sometimes it is highly impractical to read a source in its entirety. Whether you’re doing some preliminary reading to familiarize yourself with the existing scholarly discussion or to cram for class, skimming can be a good way to extract the main idea of the text in as little time as possible.
List 2.1.2. Strategies for Skimming
  • Read the introduction and the conclusion.
    Doing this will give you a sense of the general trajectory of the argument.
  • Read the first sentence of every paragraph.
    This sentence is usually sufficient to tell you what the main point of the paragraph is and whether you should spend time reading it.
  • Read both horizontally and vertically.
    Let your eyes roam. Look for keywords and bolded or italicized items.
  • Read for points and not for analysis.
    Though it’s always good to understand how the author arrived at a claim, it is more productive in a pinch to skip the analyses and return to them later.