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Loyola University Chicago Libraries

Library Workshops: How to Read

A guide to current and past workshops offered by the Loyola Libraries.

How to Read: Strategies for Focusing and Retaining the Words on a Page

The Workshop --

Reading habits and styles are changing while academic work continues to require focused attention and long-term retention.  Discover effective strategies and solutions to reading dilemmas by attending this workshop.  Questions may be sent to Jane Currie (

View the slides used during the workshop

Get to Know Yourself as a Reader

What conditions serve you best as you read?  Consider the noise level, lighting, and seating that suit you.

Track how much time you need to do different kinds of reading: textbooks versus literature, straightforward versus challenging.

Strategy: Note-Taking

A reader who is taking notes is an active reader!  Consider adopting the Cornell Method.

Strategy: Manage Time

Decide for yourself how you are going to establish times for reading in your day and within the time you dedicate to studying outside class.  This relates back to content earlier in this guide about knowing yourself as a reader; both the time of day when you are most capable of effective reading and the length of time you will need to complete a reading assignment.

A variety of time management techniques and tools can be applied to your reading.  A few options are linked below.

Strategy: SQ3R


  • The table of contents;
  • The part you will be reading as a whole for initial familiarity and to estimate how long it is likely to take to read;
  • Headings and subheadings (consider using these as an organizational framework for your own notes);
  • Introduction or first paragraph (read for the chapter’s purpose); and
  • Final paragraph; read for a summary of the section you will be reading.


  • Change the headings and subheadings into questions about what the content will hold.
  • Ask questions of the writer as you read; look for the answers as you progress.


  • Actively look for the main idea and supporting details.
  • Take notes.
  • Look for key words, images, and passages.
  • Consider how the content relates to previous readings, lectures, and the objectives for the class.


  • Paraphrase what you’ve read vocally to test your reading comprehension.
  • Vocalizing will also help with memory.


  • A regular reviewing habit of the text and your notes will also help with long-term memory.

Recommended Reading & Resources

How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Carles Van Doren (Simon & Schuster, 1972)

  • A classic, still cited as one of the best books about reading.
  • See the catalog record for more information.

Slow Reading in a Hurried Age by David Mikics (Belknap Press, 2013)

  • Philosophy and practical advice on reading for deep understanding when more and more of our reading is rapid and merely for information.
  • See the catalog record for more information.

Please use the links in earlier sections of this guide to find more information on the recommended note-taking and time management strategies.

Contact a librarian for more reading suggestions or for assistance accessing any of the resources listed in this guide.



Workshop Instructor: Jane Currie

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Contact Info
Reference Services Department
Loyola University Chicago
773 508 2773
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