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Lateral Reading Activity: Home

Lateral Reading Activity

What Is Lateral Reading?

"Lateral reading" is the concept of looking for information about a resource before actually reading the resource in order to better understand how trustworthy it is. It is an important tool for researchers that are trying to cut through possible lies, misinformation, and disinformation and find the kernels of truth they can use for their projects or their personal consideration.

How To Do Lateral Reading

How To Do Lateral Reading

Follow the steps below in order to do lateral reading for any source you find, no matter where it comes from!

  1. When you find information from a source you haven't encountered before, do some research about the source BEFORE deciding whether you should read the entire source and/or listen to anything the source has to say.
  2. Try to determine a consensus about the source by researching it using Google and Wikipedia.
    1. Good things to start with: publisher, author, topic
    2. Go past page 1 of the Google search!
  3. Read a minimum of 4 to 5 new sources to see what they have to say about your original source.
  4. If you can't find 4 or 5 sources about something, that is information in itself. It means you're probably looking at a site that doesn't have an established reputation. Proceed with caution.
  5. Once you determine a consensus from these new sources, make a judgment call about the original source's trustworthiness.

Lateral Reading Example

Lateral Reading Example

Below is a source that we aren't sure about. Let's do lateral reading on it to learn more about it!

  • Payne, Marissa. “Tuition Hikes May Put Dreams on Hold.” The Daily Iowan, 22 Aug. 2017, p. 1A.
  • First, DON'T READ THE ARTICLE. Let's do lateral reading on it first to figure out how much we can trust it.
  • To start the lateral reading, let's think of the 3 main things to find information about regarding the source: publisher, author, and topic
  • Let's start with googling the publisher: "The Daily Iowan"
  • Then, let's google the author of the article: "Marissa Payne"
  • Finally, let's google the topic: "tuition hike iowa 2017"
  • If we find enough clues that point to the article's trustworthiness (4-5), then we can more comfortably use the information in our essays/projects. If not, we can try to use only a bit of the information you can prove with outside sources, or look for another source altogether.


This guide was originally developed and designed by Chris Ortega