Skimming and scanning reading materials is a reading skill and technique which has its purpose. There are different reasons why you are reading a particular text or a paper, either you read it thoroughly or you just skim and scan it.
Skimming is what you use when you just want to get a general impression of a reading material. An example of skimming is when you are looking at a book and you look at the cover, the back cover, the title of the book, the contents page, the chapter headings, the first and last sentence of the paragraph for each chapters and the sub headings. You just skim over the book so you will have some idea on what the book is all about. You don't actually need to read through the whole book just to get an overall impression, you skim through it in a matter of seconds or minutes.
For scanning, this is the technique you use when you are trying to find an answer to your questions. An example of scanning is when you are trying to find a name on a phone book. You do not read the names one by one, instead you scan the page down quickly until you see the name you are looking for.
Skimming and scanning is often used when you are trying to get an answer quickly from the reading material or the book. If you read through the whole paper or article, you are wasting a lot of time instead of just getting the answers quickly by scanning or skimming.
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