Reading a Textbook

Three Common Fallacies:

  • An OK way to read a textbook is to “curl up” on a chair, relax, and read.
  • You should not write in your book.
  • A highlighter is the best way to underline.



  • Sit at a desk.
  • Have a pen in hand.
  • Write and underline in the text.
  • Concentrate, uninterrupted, for 50 minutes; then stretch.


Survey the Entire Text


  • To show you what the main topics are.
  • To show you how the topics are arranged. (Can you skip a chapter and read it later?)
  • To alert you to the difficulty level.
  • To determine how familiar you are with the subject.


  • Look at the title, publication date, and author.
  • Read the Table of Contents.
  • Read the Preface/Introduction.
  • Skim the first and last chapters.
  • Read all of the chapter titles.
  • Read the first & last paragraphs of each chapter, and glance at headings/subheadings.
  • Look at available reading aids (e.g., glossary, index, appendix, references).


  • Before reading the first chapter and/or before attending your first class.