What is your reading style? 📚

Studies demonstrate people often scan and skim online content and comprehension is often low. Its important to actually digest and integrate what we are reading for the sake of critical thinking.

The 4 Types of Reading

In the educational classic, How to read a book, Mortimer & Adler define four types of reading critical to comprehension.

1. Elementary Reading 🚸

Pretty self-explanatory. If you're reading this, you've got this level down.

2. Inspectional Reading 🔎

Quickly skimming and scanning to get the basic gist of the writing. Quite common for most online reading. It doesn't necessarily lend to comprehension or understanding.

3. Analytical reading 🧐

This is when you start putting your mind to work. A thorough and complete form of reading for the sake of understanding. Chewing and digesting the content.

4. Synoptical Reading 🤓

Reading and comparing multiple works on a given topic in order to reconstruct and order the conversation on that subject. Develops deep fluency.

🏁 Conclusion 🏁

Scanning and skimming often lead to low comprehension and confirmation bias.

Synoptical reading is essential to develop critical analysis.


Adler, M. J., & L., V. D. New York: Toushstone.. (1972). How to read a book: by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles van Doren. Rev. and updated ed.. .
Fitzsimmons, G., Jayes, L. T., Weal, M. J., & Drieghe, D. . (2020). The impact of skim reading and navigation when reading hyperlinks on the web.. PloS one, 15(9), e0239134. .
Stole H., Mangen A., Schwippert K. . (2020). Assessing children's reading comprehension on paper and screen: A mode-effect study. Computers & Education Volume 151.

I’m a blend of two.  I’m guilty of Inspectional reading when I’m surfing the web for a quick answer, and I need to scan different sources to find what I’m looking. I also do inspectional reading if I’m on a busy news site/social media where I have all the intentions of reading throughly haha, but I’ll end up clicking  on the most interesting headlines and scan the subheadings to see if I’ll continue, or save for later. But I do Synoptical reading too from writers and sites I frequent.  When I love a piece, I always find myself researching other places on the same topic to compare after reading the piece.

So important, more and more I find myself skimming and missing important information.

This is a great discussion. In a fast past life, I have become an Inspectional Reader for sure. I use to really enjoy reading and now that have moved to NYC, I am always on the run. I have a little time to read on the train but I am reading work emails and text messages. That's the life of city girl. I think I need to wake up an hour earlier for some quiet reading. Thoughts?

Love this – it's so important to hone and maintain critical thinking skills in the digital age. I think these types of skills really start young: kids should have limited screen time and be encouraged to read consistently to develop true literacy. I hadn't heard of these four reading types before, but they make sense.