What is the difference between skimming and scanning reading skills?

Reading is often treated as a leisure activity but very few people know that it is actually a technique. Skimming and scanning are the two often confused techniques for reading or to be specific reading strategies.


Skimming often refers to the way in which one reads at a faster rate to gain the general idea about the text without paying heed to the intentional and detailed meaning of the text.

For Example - When one reads the text only in order to understand the thesis statement, in one or two lines.

  • Skimming is achieved by reading that text only which is considered to be relevant.
  • Skimming requires a lower understanding of word recognition than compared to scanning.

Procedure - Read the introductory paragraph and the conclusion paragraph very carefully. You should search for headings and subheadings to get a good grasp of the idea.


Scanning refers to the technique when one looks into the document or the text provided for searching some specific text such as some keywords.

Example - Now it may be applied to the real-life example of a dictionary, wherein one looks for a specific word meaning or a directory wherein one searches for the phone number of someone.

  • Scanning requires one to have a look at the whole document quickly at least once.
  • Scanning requires a higher understanding of word recognition compared to skimming.

Procedure - You should search for headings and subheadings to get a good grasp of the idea, as to where your required detail will be found.

Skimming and scanning, therefore, are two very different strategies for speed reading. They are used for different purposes, and they require different reading skills, but they are very significant to go about reading comprehension.