Pre-Reading to assess if the article will be useful to your purpose

Understand the Author's Point of View
Scan the article for pertinent information


• First, review the commonly known facts about your topic, and also become aware of the range of thinking and opinions on it. Review your class notes and textbook and browse in an encyclopedia or other reference work.

• Make a preliminary list of the subtopics you would expect to find in your reading. These will guide your attention and may come in handy as labels for notes.

Online Encyclopedias that might be helpful are:
Encyclopedia.Com at
Encarta Encyclopedia at
Wikipedia Encyclopedia at
MedLine Plus Encyclopedia at


Understanding the author's point of view:

• Author credits: Learn something about the credentials of the author. Articles often provide brief biographical profiles of the authors.
• Prepare to become part of the writer's audience. After all, authors design texts for specific audiences, and becoming a member of the target audience makes it easier to get at the author's purpose.
• Prepare to read with an open mind. Critical readers seek knowledge; they do not "rewrite" a work to suit their own personalities. Your task as an enlightened critical reader is to read what is on the page, giving the writer a fair chance to develop ideas and allowing yourself to reflect thoughtfully, objectively, on the text.

Scan the article for pertinent information:

• Suggested steps for critically reading an article. Look at each of the following parts of the paper to discover how this article can advance your knowledge.
• The title: Look for key words that have relevance to your topic. This may seem obvious, but the title may provide clues to the writer's attitude, goals, personal viewpoint, or approach.
• The opening paragraphs: If the opening shows no relevance, abandon it
• Each topic sentence of the paragraphs of the body: The first sentences of each paragraph will give you the author’s main points.
• The closing paragraphs: If the opening seems promising, skim the closing.

If the article suits the readers intended aim then proceed to read it more completely.

last updated: August 29, 2005 Marti Lindsey