Read efficiently

Skimming and scanning can help you select reliable, relevant resources without reading every word on the page.


Skimming is looking at headings, summaries and pictures to get an overview of what the resource is about and whether it's worth reading in more detail. When skimming, look at:

  • list of contents
  • headings
  • chapter summaries
  • indexes
  • site maps

Site maps give you an overview of all the main headings in a site – much like an index in a book.

  • site menus and navigation
  • the first paragraph of a book chapter, newspaper or journal article
  • the first sentence of each paragraph on a page.


Scanning is searching a text for specific words – such as your keywords – to decide whether it contains relevant information. To scan effectively:

  • take your time – if you scan too quickly you might miss keywords and write off a useful resource
  • scan for the first few letters of a word, not the whole wordlook for words from your list of keywords
  • use the find function on websites, PDFs and HTML pages to scan for your keywords
  • scan for synonyms and spelling variations.
Useful resources generally use language that is clear and easy to understand.