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Active readers use reading strategies to help save time and cover a lot of ground. Your purpose for reading should determine which strategy or strategies to use.

What is it? Previewing a text means that you get an idea of what it is about without actually reading the main body of the text.

When to use it: to help you decide whether a book or journal is useful for your purpose; to get a general sense of the article structure, to help you locate relevant information; to help you to identify the sections of the text you may need to read and the sections you can omit.

To preview, start by reading:

  • the title and author details
  • the abstract (if there is one)
  • then read only the parts that ‘jump out’; that is: main headings and sub headings, chapter summaries, any highlighted text
  • examine any illustrations, graphs, tables or diagrams and their captions, as these usually summarise the content of large slabs of text
  • the first sentence in each paragraph
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