Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Book Research Skills

This guide will help you learn how to effectively use books for research.

How to Skim a Book

Unlike most articles, books often do not have an abstract that summarizes the main points of the argument. But, you can learn to skim a book so you don't waste time reading information that is irrelevant to your research!

When you first skim a book, take a look at the table of contents. Reading the table of contents will give you a general idea of what the book covers. If there is one section in particular that focuses on your topic, consider reading that section.

Also make sure to read the preface and introduction to the book. The preface provides key information the author believes is important to his or her work. The introduction sets up the author's argument and should outline the information to follow.

Similarly, read the conclusion. The conclusion will sum up an author's argument in order to make the information stays with you.

Next, skim the contents. Read chapter titles, introductory paragraphs in each chapter, conclusive paragraphs of each chapter, etc. Write down any relevant information, including which page you found it on, in your notes.

Don't forget to check out the back matter of the book, especially the index! Look up keywords in the index to see if the book mentions your topic. If so, page numbers will be listed for the keyword.

Need Definitions?

If you are unfamiliar with the terms used in this part of the LibGuide, please go back to the "Anatomy of a Book" page.