Reading Resources

Textbook Reading Guide

The SQ4R Method


The SQ4R Method offers six steps that you can apply when reading textbooks, articles, and other school-related materials. This method is designed to help you interact with and take ownership of the information you are reading


The first step is to gain an overview of the chapter so that you have a general idea of what the material is about.

  • Skim the chapter and read over any titles, subtitles, captions under pictures, charts and graphs, chapter introductions, and any words that are marked in bold, italics or capitals.
  • Next, go to the end of the chapter and read the summary and study questions (if provided). This will give you an idea of what information you should be focusing on while reading the chapter.


Utilize this step to ask yourself what the chapter is about, and to contemplate what information you already know about the subject you are studying.

  • Read over the chapter titles and subtitles and use these to create questions that will help give you focus as you read the information.
    • For example, if the chapter title is “Common Manufacturing Practices”, you may ask yourself the following questions:
      • What manufacturing practices am I already familiar with?
      • In which geographic regions do these practices apply?
      • How does this relate to the overall course?
    • Write these questions down as a useful study guide to refer to for future tests and examinations.


This step will help you gain a thorough awareness of the material you are studying.

  • Actively read smaller sections of the text (1-2 paragraphs) at a time and try to answer the questions you created as well as any study questions in the chapter as you go.
  • Continue to re-read a section until you understand the material.


To further increase memory and recall, paraphrase the information you have read aloud.

  • After you have read a section of the text, try to summarize the information in your own words.
  • Answer any study questions and your personal questions aloud.
  • If you are struggling to remember what you have read, go back and reread the section.


Writing notes is another way to improve your memory. This step should only happen after you have read and understood the section of text you are studying. This is to help keep your notes condensed and focused on the key information.

  • Choose a note taking method that works for you. This can include:
    • Recording in a separate notebook.
    • Highlighting in the textbook.
    • Writing in the margins of the textbook.
  • It is recommended that you write notes in your own words as much as possible as this will further help you remember the material.


The final step is one that you can revisit as many times as needed to help you commit the material to your long-term memory.

  • After you have completed reading the entire chapter (section by section), read over your notes/highlighted text.
  • Once again, use the study questions and personal questions to test yourself on the information.
  • Developing a regular schedule of reviewing past notes will better equip you for future exams, projects and presentations.


SQ4R: A Method for Reading Textbooks. (n.d.). Nool: Ontario Tech University. Retrieved February 24, 2020 from   

Silverman, Ruth. Academic Reading for Maximum Effectiveness. (2018, October 19). Simon Fraser University. Retrieved                 February 24, 2020 from