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Previewing a Difficult Text

The text's arrangement can help you comprehend it more easily. Consider the following factors:

  • Does the reading begin with an abstract, a summary of the text and/or a biographical note on the author that can help you get started and interested?
  • Do the first few paragraphs include not only an explicit thesis statement but also a preview of the reading ("In this article, first . . . second . . .")?
  • Is the text divided into sections? Are headings used as each section begins?
  • Are key terms identified by italics or bold letters? Are key quotations highlighted? Are illustrations used to reinforce main points?
  • What typical pattern(s) of organization are used, such as cause and effect, general to specific, and problem and solution?
  • Are there post reading questions that can guide your reading if you read them first?
  • Are there explanatory footnotes? Is there a later glossary of terms?