Reading & Writing Skills & Tips

Reading from a print text
Reading online
Writing techniques


Reading Skills:

Skimming, Scanning, Note-Taking, and Reading between the lines are some reading skills that we need to use when reading a chapter or an article.

  • Reading from a print text:

    If you prefer to read from a print text: print out a copy of a reading passage or an article, then, start reading using your reading skills of skimming and scanning.

Tip 1:
    • What is skimming?
    • How to skim a reading?
      1. First, look for the general and main ideas in the introduction and conclusion paragraphs. Use a highlighter or a pencil to highlight or underline these ideas, so that they are easily retrieved later.
      2. Then, look for important points stated in * topic sentences that are provided in each body paragraph. Note that a topic sentence doesn't have to appear at the beginning of a paragraph; sometimes it is stated in the middle or at the end of a paragraph.
    • What is scanning?
      • Scanning means looking for supporting points and details, provided in body paragraphs. In other words, finding elaborations or sentences including detailed and specific information that support an important point or a topic sentence in a body paragraph.
    • How to scan a reading?
      1. First, look for supporting points in each body paragraph. There are usually 2-3 supporting points provided either after or before a topic sentence, depending on where it appers in a paragraph.
      2. Then, look for supporting details. Note that there are various types of supporting details, including examples, statistics, expert opinions, quotes, and explanations. These supporting details stated in sentences usually beginning with a transition word.
Tip 2:
    • Take notes while you're reading or listening to importnat information, using a shortened form of a word or phrase, such as standard and personal abbreviations, symbols, and signs.
    • Then, use the handout of the standard academic essay outline form to display your notes. (Click HERE to print out a copy of the handout).
Tip 3:
    • Reading between the lines means connecting your old and new knowledge on a certain topic in order to create your opinion on that topic.
    • Remember to use this skill when researching information for your final project; it should help you write a good thesis statement.


  • Reading online:

    If you prefer to read online, here is one way I use to skim and scan an article:

    • To skim a reading online:
      1. look for main ideas and points included in the introduction and conclusion paragraphs, in addition to topic sentences provided in body paragraphs.
      2. Next, copy the introduction and conclusion paragraphs and paste them on a word document on your PC.
      3. then, copy each topic sentence /supporting point in a body paragraph, and paste them on the same word document.

    To scan a reading online:

    we need to find the specific information sentences / details that support each main/supporting point.

    Then, copy and paste these details on the same word document.

    Put the details under each main point they support.

    Finally, use the standard academic essay outline form or template to outline or display your notes, including shortened form of words and phrases.

Writing Techniques:

Brainstorming, outlining, paraphrasing, and summarizing are some techniques or study skills that can help us write better, study well, and increase our understanding of what we read.

  • Brainstorming is when you try to think of everything you know about a certain topic. In other words, it is the process of recalling all the information you have saved in your long-term memory on a particular topic. Here is a handout that can help you organize or display some of your brainstormed ideas and thoughts, including details on a topic.
  • Outlining means displaying your notes, using the standard academic essay outline form. (Print out a copy of this handout). Your outline or layout is the map or guidelines that will help you write your report, paper, or article.
  • Paraphrasing is the process of rewriting other people's writing, using your own words, without changing or deleting any of the original meaning and ideas.
  • Summarizing is the process of writing a shorter version of other people's writing, using your own words, without changing the original meaning and ideas, you need to delete unnecessary information that do not support your purpose, in other words details that you do not need.
Send comments or feedback to the author of this page: Buthaina Al Othman
This page was last updated, April 2006
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©2004-2006 Buthaina al-Othman