1.2 Skimming to get an overview
A well-structured document usually contains a number of clues about its contents. Skimming is the practice of finding and using these clues. These are:
visual clues such as a document's title, headings, subheadings, figures and figure captions; words in boldface and italics; and numbered and bulleted lists;
verbal clues such as the introduction and conclusion or summary, and the first (or sometimes the last) sentence in each paragraph.
Specialised documents often include a brief abstract that summarises the main points of the text. The abstract is usually presented before the main text, followed, in some cases, by a list of keywords or phrases. These provide some helpful pointers to the core points and ideas of a text. When authors write articles for professional journals they are usually asked to provide an abstract and some keywords even if these aren't to be included with the article itself. The reason for this is that the abstract and keywords can be listed in the search results when library catalogues are searched.