Definition of scanning and skimming according to reading skill.

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are different types of skills used when approaching reading material.  When people wish to find only important ideas and not all the details, they often skim a text.  This involves different strategies; for example, when a person skims a newspaper article, he/she reads the headline, the opening lead line, the first paragraph which contains an overview of information.  However, the reader probably merely skims the remaining paragraphs of the article, reading the beginning sentences and glancing at nouns in the paragraph.  Skimming is used when a person is not interested so much in total comprehension, but is instead trying to locate essential points and major details.  Skimming is used to find the main ideas of a text.

Scanning is a technique used when a person tries to find a specific item such as a telephone number, a date, a time, etc.  For instance, people often scan flight and train schedules,  or they scan a page in a telephone book.  Scanning involves very rapid movement of a person's eyes up and down a page.    When scanning people often focus on the author's use of organizers such as bold print, lettering, numbering, colors, signal words such as first, second, and so on. After locating the area on the page that the person desires, he/she may then skim for more information.


eli468's profile pic

eli468 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Skimming and scanning are different types of reading. Skimming is essentially reading through something very quickly. It gives you enough information to be able to retain a summary, but not enough to remember all you read.  It gives you an impression of what you are reading quickly.

Scanning is typically reading through quickly in search of specific key terms or phrases. Scanning tends to cause you to skip over a larger amount of material than skimming because when you are scanning anything that isn't what you are looking for you bypass and don't even attempt to retain most of it, normally. 

In short:

Skimming allows you to read through all the information quickly and remember a small summary or "get the gist" of the writing.

Scanning is quickly looking for specific keywords or phrases in a piece of writing.

maria-vivanco's profile pic

maria-vivanco | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Scanning and skimming you are not actually reading word for word the passage but picking up on main points. 

zumba96's profile pic

zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Usually scanning or skimming is quickly looking over the materials you have at hand and taking mental notes or quickly grasping what its about without thoroughly reading it. 

Wiggin42's profile pic

Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

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Scanning and skimming are both reading techniques used to find information quickly. Given a new passage, a reader might quickly read over every few lines to ascertain the essence of the piece. This is called skimming. If the reader knows exactly what she is looking for, she might scan the page for that specific word or phrase.

jessica20's profile pic

jessica20 | Student | (Level 2) eNoter

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Skimming is just getting only the abstract of the text or any content. Whereas scanning is moving eyes over chunk of words simultaneously.



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