Skimming vs Speed Reading, What's the Difference? | Iris Reading
Skimming vs Speed Reading, What's the Difference?

Skimming vs Speed Reading, What’s the Difference?

Skimming vs Speed Reading, What's the Difference?

Skimming is a method of reading whereby you read through a text quickly, without stopping to read every word. But speed reading requires you to read through a text at a faster pace than normal. Skimming is faster than speed reading because you don’t have to read every word. 

Skimming and speed reading are both effective at boosting your productivity when reading. But it is important to understand the difference between these techniques. This way, you’ll know what will work best in a situation. 

This post explains the difference between skimming and speed reading.

What is considered speed reading? 

Speed reading is a technique that allows you to read faster by eliminating subvocalization and other inefficient reading habits. With speed reading, you can improve your reading comprehension and speed at the same time. 

The average reading rate of speed readers is about 550 words per minute (wpm). However, the best speed readers can read up to 1,000 wpm. There are a number of different techniques that you can use to become a speed reader. 

One popular method is to use a finger or a pen as a pacer, moving it under the text as you read. This helps to keep your eyes from fixating on each word individually, and instead forces you to take in larger chunks of text at once. 

Other methods include: 

  • Using a metronome or other timing device to keep yourself on track, or reading aloud at an increasing rate until you find your natural speed. 
  • You can also try speed reading software, which can help you to track your progress and measure your speed. 

Whatever method you choose, the key to speed reading is to practice regularly. The more you read, the faster you’ll be able to go. And as your speed increases, so will your comprehension. Soon, you’ll be flying through texts with ease!

What is skimming? 

Skimming is a technique for quickly reviewing a text in order to extract the most important information. Skimming can be used when you’re trying to get an overview of a piece of writing, or when you’re looking for specific information.

Skimming is a great way to quickly get the gist of a piece of writing. It’s faster than speed reading, as people can skim a text at 1,000 words per minute, and it can help you focus on the most important information in a text. 

The reason skimming is faster is that you don’t read every word like in speed reading. When skimming, you should read the title, headings and first sentence of each paragraph. You can also look at the pictures and captions, as well as any highlighted words or phrases. 

This will give you a good idea of what the text is about and what sort of information it contains. If you’re looking for specific information, you can scan the text for keywords or terms. For example, if you’re looking for information about animals, you might scan the text for words like ‘animal’, ‘species’ or ‘habitat’. 

When you’ve found the information you’re looking for, you can stop skimming and read the relevant section in more detail. Skimming is a useful skill to have, as it can save you time when you’re trying to find information in a text. It’s also a good way to get an overview of a piece of writing before you read it in full.

Difference between skimming and speed reading 

Skimming is a technique where you read through a text quickly, looking for the main ideas. You don’t need to understand all the details in the text, and you can even skip over some parts entirely. Speed reading, on the other hand, is a technique where you try to read as quickly as possible while still understanding what you are reading.

Skimming is a good technique to use when you want to get a general understanding of a text, or when you only have limited time to read it. Speed reading is useful when you need to read a lot of material in a short amount of time, or when you need to remember the details of what you have read.

Skimming is faster, but you may miss important details. Speed reading is slower, but you are more likely to understand and remember what you have read. The best approach is often to use both techniques: skim the text first to get an idea of what it is about, and then go back and speed read the parts that are most important.

How to read faster without skimming?

These techniques will help you read faster without skimming:

Use the pointer method

The pointer method is a great way to improve your reading speed without skimming. To use this method, simply place your finger or a pencil on the text and move it along as you read. This will help you keep your place and focus on the words more easily. 

Additionally, try to read a little bit ahead of your finger so that you can take in more information at once. With practice, you should be able to increase your reading speed using this method. If you find that you are still skimming when using the pointer method, there are a few things you can do to change this. 

First, make sure that you are not moving your finger too fast. If you are, slow down and focus on each word more carefully. Additionally, try to increase your reading speed gradually so that you don’t get overwhelmed. 

Finally, if you find yourself losing focus, take a break and come back to the text later. With practice, you should be able to improve your reading speed without skimming.

Reduce subvocalization

Subvocalization is the silent or internal reading of words in your head as you read. It’s a bad habit that can significantly slow down your reading speed.

To break this habit, you need to be aware of when you’re doing it and make a conscious effort to stop. Once you start paying attention, you’ll be surprised at how often you do it!

Here are some tips for reducing subvocalization:

1. Read out loud

This may sound counterintuitive, but reading out loud can actually help you read faster. When you read out loud, your brain is forced to process the information differently and it can help break the subvocalization habit.

2. Use a finger or a pen

Place your finger or a pen under the line of text you’re reading. As you read, move your finger or pen along with the words. This will help keep your focus on the text and away from subvocalizing.

3. Read faster

By reading faster, you’ll force yourself to process the information differently and reduce subvocalization. Just be careful not to sacrifice comprehension for speed.

4. Practice

The more you practice, the better you’ll get at reducing subvocalization. So find some articles or books that you can practice with. Start slowly and then gradually increase your speed.

Preview the material

When you’re trying to read faster without skimming, one of the most important things you can do is preview the material. This means taking a few moments before you start reading to look over the entire piece, getting a sense of what it’s about and where it’s going.

You can preview a piece of writing by skimming it quickly, looking at the headings and subheadings, and scanning any illustrations or graphics. This will give you a good idea of the overall structure of the piece and help you zero in on the most important information.

Once you’ve previewed the material, you’ll be able to read with a purpose, which will help you move through it more quickly. And if you do find yourself skimming, you’ll be more likely to catch yourself and go back to reading carefully.

Improve your vocabulary 

When you’re reading for pleasure, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of time working on vocabulary. However, if you’re reading for school or work, it’s important to be able to understand the material as quickly as possible. One way to speed up your reading is to improve your vocabulary so that you can more easily identify words and concepts.

There are a few different ways to build your vocabulary. You can start by reading more frequently. As you encounter new words, look them up in the dictionary or another reference source. Try to use them in conversation or writing so that you can become more familiar with them. 

You can also find lists of difficult or uncommon words online or in books and challenge yourself to learn a certain number each day. As you read, make a note of words that you don’t know. You can keep a list in a notebook or on your computer. 

When you have time, look up the words and try to learn their meanings. Also, try to guess the meaning of unfamiliar words based on their context. This will help you to remember the words better and increase your reading speed.


Skimming and speed reading are both effective ways to quickly read through large amounts of text. However, there are some key differences between the two techniques.

Speed reading is all about reading as fast as you can while still understanding the text. This means that you will be sacrificing some comprehension in order to read faster. Skimming, on the other hand, is about quickly finding the most important information in a text.

Iris Reading has many online courses that teach you how to read faster and become more productive. Use our speed reading tool to boost your speed. You can also maximize your memory by learning from our experts.

Take the Maximizing Memory course!

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