While You Read: Strategies for Close Reading

Understanding a work that is challenging requires a close reading — one in which we make decisions about what the text means as we read it, keep track of the author’s ideas and points, and connect these new ideas with what we already know. Marking up the text while we read facilitates this process. Here are some suggested marks for things you should look for while you are reading (but you should try to think of your own):

Look for...Mark it with...
The main question or issue in each chapter or section aim / objective / main
Fundamental concepts and their explanations or descriptions highlighting / underlining
Important conclusions. (You may use more than one to rank the importance) 3* / --> / X
Unclear or confusing parts, faulty logic Q / ?
Supporting data or information used as evidence evidence
Author voicing an opinion viewpoint / VP
Problematic assumptions being made problematic/ prob
Greater implications of the argument or discussion implication

You may also keep track of your own ideas as you are reading in a separate journal or on the blank pages or half pages of the book. Making diagrams to visualize how the important ideas are related is also a helpful technique.

Questions or feedback about ESC's Online Writing Center? Contact us at Learning.Support@esc.edu.

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