How to Read Online Articles Effectively

There are so many information and knowledge you can get from the Internet. Most of them are in the form of articles. Whether from blogs, newspapers, or portals, there are a lot of information and knowledge available as articles.

But how can you read those articles effectively? How do you make sure that the time you invest to read those articles give you the best possible return?

In my opinion, the key is capturing the ideas. If you can get good ideas from the articles and capture them in such a way that they won’t be lost, you would have read the articles effectively.

To be able to do so, here are some steps you can do:

  1. Skim through the article to see if it contains good ideas
    Before investing more time to read an article, be sure that the article is really worth your time. Skim through it to see if it contains good ideas that are worth further investment of your time.
  2. Save the article in ScrapBook
    If you think the article contains good ideas, save it using ScrapBook before you read further. This is an important step for effectively reading articles on the Internet (in step 6 I will elaborate why). 
    ScrapBook is a Firefox extension I highly recommend which allows you to capture articles from the Internet.
  3. Open the article in ScrapBook
    After you save the article, now open it from inside ScrapBook. This way the article you are going to read is the offline version, not the online one. Using the offline version allows you to use a lot of useful ScrapBook features.
  4. Preview the article to make questions
    Before reading the article more deeply, preview the article by looking at its title, subtitles, figures, and highlighted texts. You may have done this in step 1 above, but here you do it with a specific purpose of making questions. What do you want to get from the article? What questions do you want to be answered by the text? Having questions at hand make it much easier for you to capture ideas from the article.
  5. Start reading the article
    Now you can start reading the article more deeply.
  6. As you read, highlight and add notes
    This is the reason why you should save the article in ScrapBook before reading it. ScrapBook has amazing features for highlighting and adding notes to the article. It is as if you are reading with a highlighter and a pen at hand. When you find an important passage, highlight it. When you have a thought, add a note in the article. If you just read an article without saving it first in ScrapBook, you won’t be able to access these features.
    You can read the ScrapBook tutorial to learn how to use all the  features.
  7. Review your highlights and notes
    After you finish reading the article, you can review your highlights and notes. These are the ideas you get from the article. Don’t forget to press the Save button in ScrapBook to save them.

Since you have highlighted the important parts of the text and added your notes, the ideas you get are captured permanently. Several months or even years later, you can open that article in ScrapBook and instantly see the ideas you’ve got. By reading online articles this way, the time you invest on reading the articles will give you the best possible return.


  1. Thanks for your tips, makes sense to me . Gonne try scrapbook.

  2. If I find something of interest I will bookmark it on for later reading and reference. Scrapbook does sound interesting though.
    Organize IT

  3. @Martin:
    You’re welcome. ScrapBook is actually my favorite Firefox extension. If I have to choose only one Firefox extension to install, this will be it.

    @Spike: is a great way to organize interesting stuffs we find on the Internet, and I’m a happy user of it. It doesn’t have features like highlighting and adding notes though, so it’s difficult to capture important ideas inside the articles.

  4. Great tips. I find those tips very effective.
    It wouldn’t be wise to spend so much time reading without understanding, especially when the brain is already tired and there is still something left to read.

  5. Based on Pamela’s comment, I think another reason for no.3 would be saving it for later if the brain is not in the condition of reading anymore.

  6. @Pamela:
    Thanks! As you said, understanding is key. That’s one way to measure the return we get from our time investment.

    I agree, I sometimes do it myself. Another reason for me is creating a personal “knowledge base” which I can easily search later.

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