Different Techniques To Get The Most Out Of Reading & When To Use Them

Many of us don’t even notice, but we have been using different reading techniques since our childhood. We would open our favorite fairy tale books, read a few words and jump to another part of the book. Growing up, we learned different reading methods. Reading is essential, but it is also important to know when to use which technique in an everyday scenario. You will be able to save time and effort. Avoid reading intensively when you can skim, and don’t scan when you need to read carefully. Here are the different reading techniques and situations best to use them.

4 Reading Techniques To Help You Get The Most Out Of Reading

#1 Scanning

This technique is used a number of times in a day to day life. Scanning involves looking only for specific keywords and texts like numbers, names etc. Phonebooks, emails, menu cards have similar layouts, so they are easy to scan. However, in case of novels, this can be tricky. This is the best technique to use when you need specific information – fast.

How to Scan:

There are 3 things which you need to process in mind before scanning:

  • Objective – what information am I looking for?
  • Type of writing to be scanned –  where can I get this information?
  • Layout – how the info is arranged?
When to Scan:
  • checking your inbox
  • buying from book or grocery store
  • choosing meals

#2 Skimming

Skimming involves reading more in less time. You first need to get the main idea of the material before looking for certain details that back it up, unlike scanning. This works best for non-fiction works. You might not be able to get the entire idea by using this method. Skimming should not be used while reading crucial documents like contracts and agreements as you might miss the vital info.

How to Skim:
  • Objective – what do I need from this material?
  • Main Idea – what is the main message or thought of this piece?
  • Supporting Data – how can I prove that this is the main idea of the material?
When to Skim:
  • reading reviews
  • impromptu presentations
  • revising for exams
  • quick research

#3 Intensive Reading

This technique is recommended when you want to retain the information for the longest possible time. Intensive Reading is one of the most time-consuming techniques of the reading methods. This method is recommended especially for language students, as it helps them truly grasp the meaning of the words in context. But it’s also great for analyzing reports and detailed research. Used in conjunction with skimming and scanning, intensive reading can widen your horizons and help you keep important information longer.

How to intensive read:
  • read carefully in a detailed manner
When to intensive read:
  • new contracts, business proposals, or memos.
  • using the company chatroom
  • replying to emails.

#4 Extensive Reading

Extensive reading focuses on reading for leisure. You select your own material, your own pace, as well as how you will interpret the content of what you have just read. This method is great not only for fiction works but also if you want to improve your writing and expand your vocabulary.

How to extensive read:
  • Choose your own material
  • Use your own pace
When to extensive read:
  • When you have free time

Reader’s Next Steps

These are good skills to have, especially in our dynamic, connected world today. Try these strategies for yourself and see how it feels:

  • Try scanning your inbox for newsletters you would like to read first thing in the morning. Not a digital person in the AM? You can do the same with newspapers or magazines during your commute.
  • Got a lot of blogs to go through? Skim through the main ideas of each instead of reading the entire article. This allows you to have more time for each of your favorites.
  • Read your reports and contracts intensively instead of simply skimming them. You might be surprised to see some discrepancies (if there are any).
  • Nothing to do or got more free time than you expected? A book or ebook should keep you preoccupied. Try extensive reading and see the hours just slip away.

Using these reading techniques will allow you to maximize your efforts and get the information you need within the time allotted. If you have become so accustomed to one method, have faith that you can always master the other three.


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