Skimming means to read something at a comparatively faster rate without going into an in-depth reading, so as to have an idea of what the work is all about. On the contrary, scanning implies a reading technique in which one takes a quick look of the document, so as to find the specific information contained in the written material.
Reading not just helps a person to improve vocabulary but also increases basic knowledge. However, when we have to read and make a research of something from a voluminous material in a limited amount of time, a person either goes for skimming or scanning, depending on the purpose.
As the two reading skills involves a very quick eye movement over the text, it becomes difficult for the students to distinguish the two, but their difference lies in the purpose itself.
Content: Skimming Vs Scanning
|Basis for Comparison||Skimming||Scanning|
|Meaning||Skimming is a way of reading something in a fast manner so as to grasp the main points.||Scanning means to look carefully and quickly at the written material so as to locate something.|
|Method of Reading||Quick||Selective|
|Involves||Reading out the maximum content in minimum time.||Finding out the required data.|
|Objective||To take a birds-eye view of the text.||To spot and cast specific facts.|
|Familiarity||The reader is not familiar with the text.||The reader knows what he is searching for.|
Definition of Skimming
‘To skim’ means ‘to take a quick glance’. Skimming can be understood as the technique of speedy reading wherein the reader pays attention to the main point or essence within the passage only, so as to get a general concept of the content. In skimming, the text containing unnecessary details, stories, examples or other data is purposefully skipped.
In other words, skimming does not require intimate reading but it should be focused.
The reader mainly reads the introduction, summary, bold/italic words, bulleted points, names, heading and subheadings, dates, figures, etc. This technique is generally used while reading newspaper, mails and messages. Skimming is said to be effective when the reader is able to grasp the main information correctly and clearly.
With skimming a lot of time of the reader is saved, because you don’t have to spend hours to read the entire material in full. But, this technique should not be applied every time, except you are in a hurry. However, it is also possible that when you skim a reading material you skip the relevant points, or misunderstand something.
Skimming can be used, to take the overview of the chapter while revising for an exam or to take an overview of a book to decide if it is read-worthy or not.
Definition of Scanning
‘To scan’ means ‘to look for something’. Scanning refers to a selective reading method generally used by the reader when he/she is in search of some specific information or text, contained in the passage, without reading the text thoroughly. Hence. when you scan some material you already know what are you looking for, you just have to spot and swoop it down.
It involves rolling the eyes over the study material until you locate the keywords or information of your need. It has more to do with searching, rather than reading. Therefore, it can be said that scanning is a search-oriented reading process, which is used to find out answers to the specific questions, and once the answer is found, the reading process is stopped.
Basically, when you perform scanning, there is a specific purpose or question at hand, and you go through with the given text so as to find the answer to that question and thus avoid reading the text which is irrelevant to your purpose or question.
Key Differences Between Skimming and Scanning
The difference between skimming and scanning are discussed here in detail:
- Skimming can be defined as a type of reading in which the reader reads the text quickly to have an idea of the concept, subject matter, main points and gist, without paying close attention to the excessive detail. On the other hand, scanning refers to the reading technique, in which the reader moves his eyes over the entire text in order to locate specific keywords which he/she has in his/her mind.
- Skimming is a quick reading method, whereas scanning is a selective reading method.
- While skimming involves reading out the maximum amount of material in the minimum time, scanning is a method of searching out something in a fast manner.
- Skimming technique is used with the aim of taking an insight of what is contained in the study material, without reading it word for word. On the contrary, when the reader uses scanning he/she wants to find out the specific fact, keyword or information, of his/her need.
- Skimming is used to get acquainted with the text you have not read yet. Conversely, in the case of scanning the reader has the knowledge of what he/she is looking for, in the given text.
Basically, skimming tells you what information is contained in the section or in the document as a whole. In this, the reader runs his eyes quickly over the large chunks of material to pick the main points. On the contrary, scanning tells you where the information of your requirement is located in the text.
Hence, one can skim the passage to understand its essence, whereas one can scan it to find certain words, numbers, dates, etc.