How to Skim a Book Effectively


Reading is an enjoyable pastime, but sometimes you need to review the chief points of a book quickly. Instead of reading every page for content, follow these steps to skim a book for pertinent information.

Things You'll Need

  • Book of choice
  • Set aside an hour of uninterrupted time. Being able to focus will increase your comprehension of the book's main points.

  • Scan the cover for information about the book. Open the book and flip through the pages to glance over illustrations and charts. Quickly read the captions as well.

  • Review the book's front matter, starting with the table of contents, which provides an outline of the book's content by chapter. Glance over the introduction, preface and any other opening material the author has provided that contributes to your understanding of the book overall.

  • Move to the back of the book. Read the book's conclusion and scan the index, which provides a detailed breakdown of information the book contains.

  • Read the first page of the first chapter, then skim through the pages that follow. Stop to read the conclusion of the first chapter.

  • Read the first and last pages of the final chapter. Skim the material in between.

  • Go through the rest of the book in the same way, chapter by chapter. As you skim, pause to read sidebars and other set-apart information, or go back and review these after you've skimmed the entire chapter. When you've finished the book, you should have a good grasp of the material and where to turn for more in-depth reading you may want to do.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the book is divided into sections and then into chapters, read the section introductions first for the entire book. The key is to break the material into logical, manageable chunks you can absorb quickly.
  • If the book is nonfiction, look for specific areas of interest as you scan the table of contents, index and chapter titles and introductions.

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