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Research, Reading, & Writing Studio

10 Reading Tips


A few tips before you begin:

  • Be sure to read ALL of the strategies first to ensure that you pick the best strategy for your assignment.
  • Consider combining strategies: using one strategy is great, but using several together is better!
  • And remember- many texts you read will be difficult, and they may require “failed” readings before the text can be understood. “Failed” readings will actually IMPROVE your understanding of a text!

1. Read slowly and carefully.

2. Decide what to read closely and what to skim.

3. Highlight, underline, and/or circle information in the text that you think is important.

4. Annotate and make notes in the margins when reading.

5. Think about how the content of the text applies to your writing purpose.

6. Use reference materials, such as a dictionary.

7. Put ideas presented in the text into your own words.

8. Use context clues.

9. Re-read parts you don’t understand.

10. Meet with your professor when you are confused.

See the full explanations of these tips here:

Convert text files to audio

It can be extremely useful or necessary to listen to text-based readings rather than only to visually read them:book on audio

  • Use your commuting, walking, or cleaning time to listen to your course texts!
  • Listen while you visually read along with a text to try to increase comprehension and memory.
  • Use as a writing strategy: listen to your own writing as a way to notice areas to improve.
  • Use a a motivation strategy; if you don't feel motivated to do anything, at least listening to readings will allow you to make some progress and may re-engage you in your work.


SPU has a tool called SensusAccess, which can convert text-based files to audio (plus other ways to change file types).

  1. Start at SPU’s SensusAccess Conversion Tool.
  2. (Step 1 of process) Upload a PDF document (or text or URL) you’d like converted to a streaming audio file. (If you have a print book, scan to PDF the section you need. If you are starting with a text file in another format, go straight to Step 6.)
  3. (Step 2) Select Accessibility conversion. This will send you a Word document, which will put header and footer info into correct places (it won't read you all those headers and footers) and which you can then edit otherwise as needed (don't need to listen to the 25 references at the end of the chapter? Delete them!).
  4. (Step 4) Email the file to yourself at your SPU email address, which takes only a few minutes to process.
  5. Re-start at SensusAccess Conversion Tool, and (Step 1) upload the Word document you’d been emailed. 
  6. (Step 2) Select MP3 audio as the target format.
  7. (Step 3) Select language of document and audio speed (choose default to start, then consider another speed later if necessary).
  8. (Step 4) Email the streaming file to yourself. It may take longer to process, depending on the length of audio, but is usually ready with 5 min - 1 hour.

The streaming audio file will be a link in the email and is available for one week. If you need it longer, re-convert the Word file to mp3.

Happy listening!

audiobook by Clea Doltz is licensed CC BY 3.0.