Difference Between Skimming and Scanning

Difference Between Skimming and Scanning

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Anshuman
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on May 31, 2024 12:36 IST

Skimming and scanning are two commonly used reading techniques. However, many people are perplexed whether these words are related in any way. In this article, we will look at the difference between skimming and scanning.

Difference between skimming and scanning

Reading techniques are strategies of reading that you can use to improve your reading skills. These techniques assist you in reading faster, comprehending what you read more thoroughly, and remembering what you read more effectively. Skimming and scanning are two of the most popular reading techniques. But do you understand these two techniques or the distinction between skimming and scanning techniques? Most of us will be unable to respond to this question. 

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If you don’t understand the difference between skimming and scanning techniques, I strongly advise you to read the entire article to improve your reading skills. So, without further ado, let’s quickly review the table of contents to learn about the topics we’ll be discussing in this blog:

Table of contents (TOC)

Difference between skimming and scanning 

There are various differences between skimming and scanning, and let’s explore them in a tabular format for better understanding.

Parameter Skimming Scanning
Objective To find a general theme, topic or meaning To find a specific information
Purpose Gives an idea of what is a full text about Helps to find specific information in the text.
Technique involves Reading the introduction, conclusion, headings and subheadings Looking over the whole text to find specific information.
Advantage Reader can read the maximum text in a limited period Reader can find limited but specific information
Need to read the whole text No Yes ( if not all, then at least a major part of a text)
Usage To decide whether or not to read the text completely They are more concerned with the word’s form because they know what they are looking for.
Nature of the approach General Specific
Application Reading newspaper Searching for a word in dictionary
Method of reading Quick Selective
Familiarity Reader is not familiar with the text Reader is familiar with the text

What is skimming?

Skimming definition: Skimming is a reading technique in which a reader reads through the text quickly to see what it is about.

Skimming means reading something quickly without going into great detail in order to get a sense of what the work is all about. For example, a reader may use the skimming technique to quickly preview a book or scan an article for the main points to determine whether it is worth reading.

The reader carefully reads the first few paragraphs in detail to grasp the overall message. Then he/she reads the first line of each paragraph, and after that, they directly go through the concluding section in detail to gain a broad understanding of the subject. Hence, by using the skimming technique, a reader can read more text in less time.

To summarize, “The skimming technique is ideal for reading quickly and discovering specific information in a section. It takes less time because not all of the words in paragraphs or sections are read, but it still provides a broad sense and knowledge of the content.”

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What is scanning?

Scanning definition: Scanning is a reading technique in which a reader scans the page with their eyes in order to find specific information.

To scan implies to search for something. Scanning is a selective reading approach performed by the reader when he or she is looking for certain information or text contained in the section without entirely reading the text. As a result, when you scan some material, you already know what you’re searching for; all you have to do is spot and swoop it down.

Here’s an illustration of a scanning technique: When looking for a phone number in a directory, a person scans the page for the name of the exact person they are looking for. To effectively scan, the reader must first comprehend how the content is organized and decipher what is read in order to easily discover the required information.

 

Key differences between skimming and scanning

Here are the key differences between skimming and scanning:

  • Skimming is a way of rapid reading, whereas scanning is a method of selective reading.
  • While skimming is reading the most stuff in the least amount of time, scanning is a means of quickly finding something.
  • The skimming approach is utilized to understand what is contained in the study material. On the contrary, when a reader scans, they look for specific information.
  • Skimming is used to become acquainted with a text you have not yet read. In the case of scanning, the reader already knows what they are looking for in the given text.
  • Skimming is a form of reading in which the reader reads the text fast in order to get the subject without paying particular attention to unnecessary detail. Scanning, on the other hand, refers to a reading style in which the reader moves his eyes throughout the entire text in order to find specific information.

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Conclusion

Skimming is a technique in which a reader reads through the text quickly to see what it is about, whereas scanning is a technique in which a reader scans the page with their eyes in order to find specific information.

Now, that you have a fair idea about the difference between skimming and scanning, you will be able to use these reading techniques more effectively.

FAQs

What is difference between skimming and scanning?

Skimming is a technique in which a reader reads through the text quickly to see what it is about, whereas scanning is a technique in which a reader scans the page with their eyes in order to find specific information.

What are the 3 types of skimming?

Three types of skimming: preview, overview, and review

Is skimming preferable to scanning?

It is determined by the goal of your reading. Skimming allows you to determine broad information, whereas scanning allows you to locate a specific piece of information. To use an effective reading approach, you must first establish your reading goals.

About the Author
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Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio