Everyday English 2
Everyday English 2

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Everyday English 2

2.1 Skimming

Described image
Figure 4 What to look for when skimming

Skimming can help you to decide if something is going to be worth reading. Skimming involves reading the title, headings and subheadings, and looking at the pictures, to decide if the text is worth reading. This saves time if you want or need to read a lot of texts.

Skimming helps you to decide:

  • Should I open it?
  • Should I read it?
  • How much time should I spend reading it?

For example, for a newspaper article you could look at the headline, which summarises what the article is about, and at the first and last paragraphs, which might sum up the whole article. Photographs with captions also give clues.

Skimming is not just for information texts. You can also skim to decide if a novel is worth buying from a bookshop or borrowing from a library.

Activity 5 Why choose that one?

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Think of the last time you bought or borrowed a book to read for pleasure. Why did you choose that one?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Have you bought any magazines or newspapers in the last few months or read any online? What do you think made you choose the ones you did?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


Here are the reasons why I chose the books, magazines and newspapers I’ve read over the past couple of months. You may have had other reasons.


  • The description of the book on the back cover.
  • I had already read and liked something by the same writer.
  • The illustrations on the front cover.
  • It was recommended by a friend.
  • I read a good review of the book.
  • I read the first paragraph of the first chapter and liked what I read.
  • I had seen the film of the book.

Magazines and newspapers

  • One magazine covers my special interest, mountain biking.
  • The newspaper I bought has a motoring section and I wanted to find out prices for second-hand cars.
  • I read a magazine in the hairdressers.
  • I like doing the newspaper crossword.

What you have written will depend on your own tastes and habits. I buy both newspapers and magazines without really looking at what is inside. I may scan the contents page of a magazine, but I rarely look at a newspaper before buying it. What you decide to read for pleasure often depends on your own interests and needs, but skimming can help!


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371