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Strategies and Tips for Reading Texts
Author: ADMIN (ukstudent at gmail dot com)
Published: Wed, 06-Jul-2005
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Strategies and Tips for Reading Texts. By Unit III Academic Center Writing Tutor Faisal Azam, University of California - Berkeley

Before Reading

1. Find a quiet, well lit, comfortable place to sit and read Have all your necessary things close by: pens, pencils, post its, highlighters, ruler, drink etc.
2. Get acquainted with your book. Before beginning, flip through the entire book, read the back cover, table of contents, information about the author, date of publication, carefully examine the front cover (including pictures), and look at diagrams, length of chapters, titles, headings, etc.
o When examining pictures on the front or back cover, ask yourself how the picture relates to the text. Is it an interpretation, a real picture or painting, or something abstract that has nothing to do with the text?
3. Read the preface. The preface is a place to find valuable information such as
1. what the author's objective is,
2. what the author's objective is not
3. the organizational plan of the book
4. how and why the book is different from other books on the subject and how it came about, and
5. the authors qualification.
4. Read the introduction The introduction usually includes
0. important facts and ideas
1. the organizational plan of the book, and
2. a good point of departure into the book


1. Reading is an active process that requires intense concentration. Keep in mind that reading is not a relaxing, pre-bedtime activity. Consider reading a dialogue with the book and read in sittings of an hour with one 5 or 10 minute break.
2. Keep in mind that the reading speed and comprehension varies with the subject matter. When reading literature or a secondary source, reading may move more rapidly dm when reading philosophy (e.g. 6 pgs./hr. is considered a good reading speed for Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit). Also, depending on the writer's style, some reading has to be done slowly, word by word, line by line, paragraph by paragraph. Other reading needs to be read completely through without slowing down and getting stuck on particular sentences or words.
3. Don't expect to understand everything. Once again, depending on the reading, comprehension varies greatly. For example, when reading Michael Foucault's History of Sexuality or The Order of Things, not eve g makes sense, and quite often, nothing makes sense on the first reading.
4. Conduct an active dialogue with the text. Constantly ask yourself questions like:
o What is the author arguing?
o What is the author arguing against?
o What does this paragraph tell me?
o Does this example make the main point clear?
o What evidence does the writer give?
o What is the underlying principle?
o If this fact or idea is true, dm what logically follows?
o How can I apply this?
5. When marking up the text, read an entire paragraph or section first, then mark. During an initial reading, there is always an inclination to mark everything because everything seems important. Also, it is difficult to differentiate between new ideas and new words to restate ideas previously discussed. Therefore, don't mark until you have finished an entire paragraph or section and have paused to think about what you've just read.
6. Use the margins, and the top and the bottom of the page for notes. Summarize the author's ideas, you reactions, cross references with other texts or chapters in the margins and at the top and bottom of the page. When 9 the author's ideas, write in your own words in order to understand better.
7. When working, be very selective. Too much marking is almost the same as not marking anything at all.
8. Employ or create a marking system and always look up new words. (See attached sheet for a marking system). Look up new works and write definitions in the back cover of the book for future reference.
9. When marking up your book and writing notes in the margins, be neat. It will be easier to read and review, and you'll be thankful.

Copyright for this article belongs to University of California - Berkeley

This document was re-printed with the kind permission of Troy Gilbert. Original Source of the article is located here: http://www.reshall.berkeley.edu/academics/resources/reading/

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