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Textbook Reading Tips

Does your mind every wander when you read a textbook?

Do you sometimes miss information that's important?

Do you often forget what you just read?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to work on improving your textbook reading skills.


Scan. Read. Review.

These three steps with help you comprehend and retain more of what you read.


  • Gives you a quick overview of what you'll be reading
  • Read the title, section headings, and everything in bold and italic print
  • Look at the pictures, graphs, and charts
  • Read the introduction, summary, and review questions
  • Think of questions for which you can find answers as you read


  • Use learning tools
    • Headings and subtitles- introduce main ideas
    • Bold and italic print- highlight key terms
    • Graphs, pictures, and charts- help you visualize information
    • Vocabulary lists- introduce new terms
    • Chapter summaries- give an overview
    • Review questions- test your comprehension
  • Read with a purpose - answer your questions from the scan preview
  • Write your answers and brief notes in the margins
  • Highlight key points (not entire sentences) once you FINISH a section (avoids overdoing)


  • Go through the same process you did when you scanned the text
  • This time think about what you have learned
  • If there are review questions, make sure that you can answer all of them
  • Review your margin notes and highlights within 6 hours of the initial reading, again within 24 hours, and then on a regular schedule until the exam