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How do I read laterally?

This guide will help you learn how to read laterally, a key fact checking skill.

What is lateral reading?

Lateral reading is basically searching for information about a source while you are reading it; you are checking for currency, relevancy, authority, accuracy, and purpose (CRAAP method) by reading what other sites say about your source. This is different from vertical reading where you apply the CRAAP method using only the information the site itself provides you.

The concept of lateral reading originated out of research from the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) under Sam Wineburg, the founder and executive director and is used by professional fact checkers!

Watch this video from the Stanford History Education Group to learn more.

So, to read laterally:

  • Open lots of tabs in your browser.
  • Get off the site you are on.
  • Do a deliberate Google search for the source or information you are evaluating.
  • Read what trusted and reliable sources are saying about the site or claim. Try to find four or five other sources that discuss your source. (If you can't find that many, that's a sign that your source might not be good.)

The easiest way to understand lateral reading is to see an example, so click on the tab to your left to see lateral reading in action!