Previewing. Previewing is learning about a text before really reading it. Previewing enables readers to get a sense of what the text is about and how it is organized before reading it closely. This simple strategy includes seeing what you can learn from the headnotes or other introductory material, skimming to get an overview of the content and organization, and identifying the rhetorical situation. Previewing is especially useful for getting a general idea of heavy reading like long magazine or newspaper articles, business reports, and non-fiction books.
It can give you as much as half the comprehension in as little as on tenth the time. For example, you should be able to preview eight or ten 100-page reports in an hour. After previewing, you’ll be able to decide which reports (or which parts of which reports) are worth a closer look.
Here’s how to preview: Read the entire first two paragraphs of whatever you’ve chosen. Next read only the first sentence of each successive paragraph. Then read the entire last two paragraphs.Previewing doesn’t give you all the details. But it does keep you from spending time on things you don’t really want-or need-to read.Notice that the previewing gives you a quick, overall view of long, unfamiliar material. For short, light reading, there’s a better technique.Contextualizing. The contextualizing is the way to placing a text in its historical, biographical, and cultural contexts. When you read a text, you read it through the lens of your own experience. Your understanding of the words on the page and their significance is informed by what you have come to know and value from living in a particular time and place. But the texts you read were all written in the past, sometimes in a radically different time and place. To read critically, you need to contextualize, to recognize the differences between your contemporary values and attitudes and those represented in the text.