How to Read (an assignment, text book, article, etc.)

I am going to keep this short and sweet.

What is fascinating reading for one’s professor might look more like a lot of words to the rest of us.

Looking at the words and occasionally coloring them with a yellow highlighter is a waste of time.

If you find yourself thinking about anything other than the words including how boring the words are, you need to follow these steps.

Steps for Reading:

1. Either print the material out or read it in a format where you can make comments (copy and paste it into Word).

2. As you read, highlight key terms in green.

3.  Highlight the key ideas and author’s claims in yellow.

3. Insert a text box in the  margin next to each paragraph summarizing what the author is saying (or if you are using printed materials, jot your notes in the margin).

If you do this, you will not drift off and you will understand what you are reading. Highlighting the author’s claims will make the paper you have to write later a lot easier.

I’m just going to pull something out of the New York Times to illustrate how this is done.
Click to enlarge:

imageBy summarizing very briefly after each paragraph, I stayed focused on the article. Your notes do not have to be detailed (or spelled correctly); just a couple of words to keep your mind on the text, and help you recall what was said. You would be surprised how much you can learn from a text when you are not thinking about something else.

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How to Read (an assignment, text book, article, etc.)

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