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Humanities LibreTexts

2.1: Active Reading

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  • Start by getting familiar with the basic parts and structure of the text:

    • What kind of text are you reading? An essay? A web site?
    • Every author has a purpose; find it.
    • Who is the audience and how does the author try to appeal to them?
    • What argument is the author making/question does the text try to answer?
    • What evidence does the author provide?
    • Are there any key terms the author defines?

    As you’re reading, make note of anything that especially catches your attention:

    • Is there a fact or point that challenged your assumptions?
    • Any surprises?
    • Did the author make a point or argument that you disagree with?
    • Are there any inconsistencies in the text?
    • Does the text contain anything (words, phrases, ideas) that you don’t understand?

    After you’ve finished reading, read it again:

    • Are there things you didn’t notice the first time reading the text?
    • Does the text leave some questions open-ended?
    • Imagine the author is sitting across from you: what would you ask them about the text? Why?

    If the text is visual in nature, try these extra tips:

    • What first strikes you about the image?
    • Who/what is the main subject of the visual?
    • What colors/textures dominate the visual?
    • What objects/people are in the background/foreground?
    • Do words or numbers play any role in the visual?
    • When was the visual created?
    • Was this article helpful?