One reads blueprints by learning the meaning of the different symbols and understanding what section is being depicted on that particular page of the blueprint. Beginners can be overwhelmed by looking at everything at once, but breaking the blueprint down into portions makes for easier comprehension.
There are three types of general blueprints, as reported by Construction Knowledge: elevation view, plan view and section view. Elevation view illustrates a particular vertical side of the structure from the front, rear or either side. The plan view is drawn as if looking directly down on the structure and shows the inner components. The section view is a drawing detailing how something will be constructed by looking at a cut-through section of the structure.
Symbols are like the words in the language of blueprints. A general blueprint key helps decipher the many symbols; however, some symbols may differ between architects. Symbols not only show the location of different elements in the building, but also how the objects move, such as which way a door may swing.
Blueprints are drawn to an Engineer's Scale. This means that 1 inch is equal to a fixed ratio in feet. For example, 1 inch may equal 10.4 feet. Another means of scaling, using inches instead of decimal form, is not uncommon depending on the size of the portion being illustrated.