Difference Between Skimming and Scanning (With Table)

Reading not only makes a person eligible for gaining knowledge but also improves the vocabulary part. There are various purpose and ways of reading, and they differ from person to person. Sometimes, reading is done only for knowing about something right at the moment. This can be done in two ways; Skimming and Scanning.

Skimming vs Scanning

The difference between Skimming and Scanning is that skimming is a reading method by just going through the brief context about something focusing on the main points, whereas scanning is a method of over-looking any content and finding the required information from it. Any of the two methods do not involve an in-depth reading.

Skimming is otherwise referred to as taking a glance. It is a reading method carried out at a fast rate to take note of the main points of content, including the introduction part, bold, italic or underlined texts, important names, figures, dates, headings, points etc. In skimming, detailed texts or long paragraphs are not included.

On the contrary, Scanning is otherwise referred to as looking for certain information or facts. It is a reading method carried out by going through the content to find out a specific piece of information that is required. It is more like searching for something rather than just reading. The process continues only until the required information is found.

Comparison Table Between Skimming and Scanning

Parameters of ComparisonSkimmingScanning
BasisSkimming is a process of reading at a faster rate for knowing all the main points. Scanning is a process of reading quickly to find specific information.
Reading MethodIt is generally a much faster and quicker reading method. It is a more selective method used for locating required facts.
ObjectiveThe objective is to know about the brief context or main theme. The objective is to read and find out certain facts.
ReaderThe reader is new to the content here. The reader already knows the purpose of reading.
Included PartsIt includes the introduction, headings, bold texts, conclusion, etc. It includes going through the whole content shortly to find something particular.
Usage This process is used while reading the newspaper or taking notes of main points before an exam. This process is used for getting solutions or answers to particular questions.

What is Skimming?

Reading is a brilliant way to know about things going on all around the world. It becomes even more efficient and particular when only the main context is given importance. This is what is called Skimming. It is one of the ways of reading, which is basically having a brief idea about the content; taking notes of the introduction, summary, highlighted points, headings, conclusion etc.

Skimming is a focused method rather than going in-depth. It is carried out at a faster rate in order to grasp the main facts about the content precisely. It is a time-saving process as one does not have to go on reading the entire content.

Some parts of the content, such as detailed information, long paragraphs, examples, stories, etc., are deliberately avoided while skimming. Mainly, this method is followed while reading a newspaper or revising the main mounts just before an exam. This gives the reader knowledge about the important points of the content and comes to help when one’s in a hurry.

Although skimming has several plus points, it still comes with some drawbacks. As this method is brief and fast, one can easily skip relevant points or grasp the incorrect idea about the content sometimes.

What is Scanning?

People and their choices tend to differ in several ways. This is also true when it comes to reading. When reading is based on searching for certain information or required data by over-looking the content, it is called Scanning. It does not involve reading the content thoroughly, rather just reading for the sake of finding out the required information.

Scanning is basically searching for something. It is done by keeping in mind the required information. Although it is not as fast as skimming, it still does not involve in-depth reading. Filtering the required content by selective reading is what scanning is all about. It has more to do with rolling the eyes rather than a much-focused reading. It continues only until the required keywords are located.

In scanning, the reader has a prior idea about the content, what to read and what not to. This method is used while searching for solutions to particular questions. For the method to be effective, the reader has to have a proper idea about his requirement.

Scanning may sometimes confuse as keywords get repeated. This method should only be carried out when something particular is needed. Searching for it mindfully can obtain good results.

Main Differences Between Skimming and Scanning

  1. Skimming is a faster reading method than Scanning.
  2. In skimming, main points are important, while in scanning, the required information is important.
  3. The reader is new to the content in skimming, while it is not the case in scanning.
  4. Skimming is used for newspaper reading, whereas scanning is used for finding solutions to questions.
  5. Skimming includes reading introduction, conclusion, headings etc. While scanning is searching the content to find the required information.
  6. Skimming aims to grasp the main theme of the content, whereas scanning aims to find out specific information.


Reading has its set of advantages in this fast-growing world. Gaining knowledge about world affairs or anything, in particular, is a great plus point that will help one become knowledgeable. Skimming and Scanning are two different methods used for reading. They have differences and yet some similarities.

Skimming is related to having a brief idea about the content. It focuses mainly on the introduction part, highlighted points, headings, sub-headings, dates, names etc., mentioned in the content. It makes one aware of what the content is really about.

In contrast, Scanning is related to looking for something particular in the content. It is used to find required information or facts by just overlooking the whole content. It provides solutions to the required questions one has.


  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10862967209547021
  2. https://jurnal.um-palembang.ac.id/englishcommunity/article/view/768
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