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