The best reading techniques for every occasion

Reading is a skill we learn early. The foundation – decoding characters – is great brainpower. It takes children a while before they no longer find reading an effort. Adults can relate to this when they read a very demanding text. The decoding works automatically, but the meaning needs to be worked out. For most of us, reading skills training stops as soon as the automatism works. Too bad. Because now we could refine our reading techniques. We would now be able to use the appropriate tool depending on the type of text and the goal. Because just as we commonly read – namely with an inner voice – we hinder ourselves.

Relearning such a familiar process is tedious at first, admittedly. But it will by no means be more arduous than what you have already achieved as a child while learning to read.

The four best reading techniques, and what purpose they are for?

The four reading techniques that I am introducing to you here are sufficient as a basis for all purposes. They can also be combined very well with one another.

1) scanning

In everyday life, you unconsciously scan all the time: your e-mail inbox, tables of contents, search results on the Internet.

When you scan, you only search for certain terms. You want to know whether the text is relevant for you at all and it is worth studying it more closely. Ignore anything that is unimportant to your question. When scanning, the structure of the texts sometimes helps us. The examples mentioned are made for scanning. Scanning is also useful for other types of text. You just have to act with a plan.

determine exactly what you are looking for. Which terms are important to you?

Consciously scan long texts only in sections. If your terms do not appear at the beginning, the text is probably irrelevant. You have a specific question and not a general interest.

In books and texts with a table of contents: First scan only the table of contents. If your search term is in a heading – go there first.

2) skimming

“To Skim” means “skim off”. When you skim, you suck off the essence of a text and get a rough overview. When skimming, you should know your destination very well beforehand. So ask yourself:

  • where should this text help me? Why do I think I should read this text?
  • what main ideas and insights does the text deal with?
  • which passages in the text prove these thoughts and insights?

Conclusion: is the text really helpful to me?

Skimming is useful when you want to choose from a large number of articles (e.g. when preparing for a presentation or writing an article yourself) that are best for you. If you choose from books, you would first scan the table of contents and the spine and then skim the interesting chapters.

Skimming is very practical, for example, before exams. You can quickly go through notes and scripts until you are sure that your knowledge is well established.

Skimming is often enough when you need to gather basic information quickly. E.g. before a meeting.

3) Speed ​​Reading

Speed ​​reading is a matter of practice. The most important goal is to get rid of the inner voice. The inner voice slows us down when we read. With speed reading, you, therefore, train to fix only a few words in each line. The inner voice has no chance to have a say. Although only every fifth to the sixth word is consciously perceived ( chunken ), we are aware of the content of the text. Why? Our eyes automatically perceive the surrounding words.

Speed ​​reading is for

  • large amounts of text
  • Technical article
  • Newspaper articles
  • Repetitions

It is one of the best reading techniques. It can be excellently combined with all other reading techniques. However: in the beginning, you need discipline and training.

4) Deep reading

Deep reading takes the most time and attention. Combine it with scanning and skimming you can at least save empty kilometers. Before doing this, you should be as sure as possible that the text is worthwhile for you.

Sometimes, however, you can’t choose whether you want to read the text or not. Logs, reports have to be read. Skimming might be enough here. Contracts and offers also have to be read carefully and understood. The required reading in the course is also acquired through deep reading.

When reading deeply, notes are necessary for 5 reasons.

  • The text is condensed to the essentials
  • What is newly learned is combined with existing knowledge
  • Own conclusions are summarized
  • Writing solidifies what has been read
  • Questions that arise are recorded


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