Skimming vs. Scanning: What's the Difference?

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Key Difference

The difference between skimming and scanning is that skimming means to go through selected or main part of the context whereas the scanning refers to read a particular part of the context that you were searching for ignoring all another irrelevant context.

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Skimming vs. scanning

The term skimming and scanning both refer to the type of reading. Just going through the text to get the idea of what is written o what the text about refers to the skimming. But when reading a text to find a certain topic or line or answer etc, we skip all the unwanted and irrelevant stuff and read the desired lines. Before we skim a topic it is not compulsory that we have any knowledge related to the text before while it is entirely opposite in the case of scanning. One must have at least enough knowledge of the content that whether it has or not the thing you are looking for. For example in a shop when searching for a book of your interest we usually skim the topics and conclude to buy or not. While when solving a comprehension passage, to find the answer we skip all the text and just search and read the answer to the question, this is known as scanning.

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Comparison Chart:

BasisSkimmingScanning
DefinitionSkimming means to go through topics or main part of the context to get the basic idea about it.Scanning refers to read a particular part of the context that you were searching for ignoring all another irrelevant context.
TechniqueOnly go through the heading, titles or main part of the text.Going to a part of text in detail to find out something in your mind.
UsageGives a quick and overall view of what is the text about.Is limited to a certain paragraph which is searched and read to find something on mind usually.
RequirementDoes not require any previous knowledge about the text.Reader must have some knowledge about text prior scanning the text.
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What is skimming?

Skimming means to go through the headings of a context or main part of the context, to get the basic idea about it. It is a quick method or way for knowing what the text is about. A person does not need to have any previous knowledge of the text before he is going to skim. When a person skims a text at first sight he or she decides either to read or not the complete text. In other words we may say that person gets to know the basic idea of the text and either it is interested for the reader or not. Skimming includes reading the headings or going through the abstract or the bold main titles or lines. The process begins with reading the title of the book. Then going through each chapter of book. Reading first line of each chapter and heading in the book. If you are reading a page or are to skim a single chapter then basically just go through the headings, bold lines and first line of each paragraph. Then it ends with the reading of last paragraph or the concluding paragraph.

What is scanning?

Scanning refers to read a particular part of the context that you were searching for ignoring all another irrelevant context. When reading a text to find a certain topic or line or answer etc, we skip all the unwanted and irrelevant stuff and read the desired lines. Before we scan a certain text, it is must to have read the text before or else at least have idea about what the text mainly contains. Scanning means to have an overall view of the text to find a specific detail. A person scanning a text is usually more attentive towards his readings. The process of scanning follows as; firstly stating the type of information you are in search of. Secondly, read the desired type of text for example, if you are looking for are date your eyes would catch the numbers in the text. A person has to go through the headings and some previous knowledge of the text to know that either the text is useful or not, either it contains desired information or not. So the knowledge and headings aids in a quick scanning. At the end, just selectively read the passage and skip the unwanted lines.

Key Differences

  1. Skimming means to go through topics or main part of the context to get the basic idea about it whereas; Scanning refers to read a particular part of the context that you were searching for ignoring all another irrelevant context.
  2. Previous knowledge about the text is essential to know before scanning but for skimming it is not important.
  3. Skimming is used where people use to decide to read the complete text or not but scanning is used where people search for something or some part of the text.
  4. In skimming reader only goes through the heading, titles or main part of the text. In scanning the reader goes through a part of text in detail to find out something in your mind.

Conclusion

Skimming and scanning are both types of reading. Skimming refers to read in order to get main concept of the text and scanning is the type of reading where an information is being searched in the text and in order to read the desired portion, remaining is just ignored.