I'm looking for a phrase to describe reading only those fragments of a text/paper/book/etc. that I need to know i.e. not reading the whole thing but only a part of it that will be useful to me.

I've thought about "selective reading" but it looks like it has negative connotations and describes a lazy reader rather than one who chooses appropriate fragments wisely. What are your ideas?

  • I think you mean * skimming*, otherwise it is called reading. – Afsane Dec 27 '15 at 11:33
  • Doesn't skimming mean "fast reading"? The passages I've chosen I read very carefully. – Richard Smith Dec 27 '15 at 12:03
  • Yes, there are some words like peruse and pore (over), or consult as @Jacinto suggested, but after all they are sort of reading. – Afsane Dec 27 '15 at 12:12
  • Actually skim means to read something quickly in order to find a particular point or the main points. For example: I always skim the financial section of the newspaper. (Oxford Dictionary) – Afsane Dec 27 '15 at 12:24

You are consulting the text. From the Oxford Learner´s Dictionaries:

3 [transitive] consult something to look in or at something to get information. He consulted the manual.

You can also look up something in a dictionary or reference book.

  • I think it basically means refer to not reading. – Afsane Dec 27 '15 at 11:39
  • @Afsane I suppose you could consult a picture book, but typically consulting a book will involve reading "fragments" of it. And it makes you sound purposeful and not lazy at all, which is one of the OP's concerns. – Jacinto Dec 27 '15 at 12:03

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