The Layers of Reading

So I’m reading a white paper about keeping a business executive’s attention when they read your white papers (click here to read the article)… and I notice that the authors break reading down into three “layers.”

  • The Skimming Layer:  In less than 1 minute, reader skims page by page to see if reading the paper will be a valuable investment of their time.  Graphics and layout can play an important role in inspiring readers to stay with it.
  • Preliminary Reading:  In 15-30 minutes, readers get more details about the author’s points.
  • Comprehensive Reading & Recommendations:  Actually reading the entire document and using it to make recommendations for your business.

Though this is, of course, over simplified, I find that I do follow this kind of approach to reading when I’m working on a larger, self-designed (usually end-of-term) project.  It allows me to quickly rule-out irrelevant articles and focus on the ones that offer the most support for my approach, methodology, or idea.

However, when I’m reading on a weekly basis for grad seminars, I jump directly to the third layer:  comprehensive reading.  Although comprehensive, it is draining and tends to make me feel like I’ve taken a beating afterward.  What about you?  How you read as a graduate student?  Do you, like me, feel guilty when you don’t get to the third layer of reading?  How do you “use” these kinds of layers (or approaches)?

About taylo206

I am an Assistant Professor of Composition, Rhetoric and Professional Writing at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
This entry was posted in Teaching Approaches, Theories of Composition and Rhetoric. Bookmark the permalink.

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