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Is it Trustworthy? Use Lateral Reading to Decide: Home

Lateral reading, the process of investigating sources, is a quick, effective method to determine whether or not your source is trustworthy.

What is Lateral Reading?

In 2017, researchers asked three groups--college students, professors, and fact checkers--to decide whether or not they were looking at fake or real organization websites. Only the fact checkers routinely discovered the fake organizations by using a technique called "lateral reading" to quickly decide whether or not information was trustworthy.

Lateral reading is the opposite of reading a website from top to bottom. Instead, open multiple browser tabs to search claims, organizations, and authors. Use Google results, news, Wikipedia entries, etc., to determine credibility. This process should only take a few minutes.

Wineburg, Sam and McGrew, Sarah, Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information (October 6, 2017). Stanford History Education Group Working Paper No. 2017-A1 , Available at SSRN: or


For more information on lateral reading, watch John Green's Crash Course episode.


  • Start with your resource and then open multiple tabs.
  • Search for the title, author, organization, etc.
  • Use other websites to determine credibility.
  • Use Google results, Wikipedia, news, etc.
  • Quickly scan snippets or open webpages to skim content.
  • Return to your original source to decide if it's credible.

Want even more information? Watch the Crash Course series, Navigating Digital Information.


Try a Fact Checker

Sort Fact from Fiction with Lateral Reading (Stanford History Education Group)

Once you locate a potential source, take one or two minutes to determine whether or not you can trust it. Learn the process by watching the video below.

Use a Media Bias Chart

Who do you trust when it comes to news? See where your favorites rank in a media bias chart.


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