How to annotate a book

How to annotate a book

Raise your hand if you write inside your books, keep special sticky notes handy, or dog-ear your pages, naysayers-be-damned! And, you know, hopefully the books you own and not public books you’ve borrowed. We admit we’re not personally huge writers, but we have a very specific system for bookmarking quotes we love, and there’s nothing wrong with taking pen/ pencil/ highlighters/ ink and quill to paper. Because, just like there are different types of readers, there are different types of note-takers! However you do it, we bet you’ll feel so much more connected to the story.

If you don’t, then you might be wondering why someone would bookmark quotes or scribble in the margins. Simply put, we’re trying to remember key points, beautiful moments, themes, phrases, and ideas so that we can return to it later and get lost in it all over again. If you’re ready to start getting lost even deeper in all our YA feels, check out some of our key tips to annotate below!

How to Annotate Your Books


An annotator’s go-to tools

A good annotater never starts a job until they have their tools ready! Here’s what you need:

  • A highlighter: Choose your favorite color! Some prefer udnerlining, but honestly, that doesn’t draw attention like neon does—and TBH, it’s not as pretty. You can use your highlighter to emphasize a single sentence, or an entire passage! Just… don’t go overboard. That won’t help as much as you think it will.
  • A pencil: You’ll also need a pencil while annotating so that you can write marginalia, which could both mean margin notes or inspire an excellent band name. Marginalia, which we get into a little later, helps you point out key information in a little more detail.
  • Sticky notes: Whether you use tiny little tabs, flags, or full-sized tags, sticky notes are the perfect tool to mark your place. This could be as simple as using them generally to mark your place in the book, or as complex as color-coding the tabs for different types of feelings!

Get to know the characters

You know what they say: Understanding the characters in a book is one of the most important parts of understanding the story. Is that not a saying? Well, to us book nerds it is!

When you’re reading something for the first time, one of the most important things you need to do is track the characters in the story—especially the ones who stand out to you. The former is so that you can understand what’s going on, but the latter is for pure reading entertainment.

If you really connect to someone early, be sure to have those tools handy. We can guarantee there will be many ‘a quote for you to mark down and return to later once you’re missing them. And if the cast is too sprawling for your liking, it’s helpful to right down a key few! You can use the inside of the front cover as a cheat sheet, and be sure to keep the summaries short and sweet to save space. Like the perfect Instagram caption!

Use it before you lose it

If you’re the type of person who tends to forget things once you’ve closed the book, annotations can be super helpful. For example, the little bit of white space just above the chapter heading is the perfect place to write a quick summary! Right after you’ve finished reading the chapter, flip back to the beginning and write a few short notes about what happened.

Get your marginalia on

Margins filled with notes are just as annoying as really long text messages, so it’s important that you’re smart about what you include in your

. Clear and concise margin notes will be a lot more useful to you than lengthy annotations, so all you need to do is follow these few simple tips and you’ll find yourself an annotation superstar:

  • Less is more: If you fill up every inch of space in your book, you’re going to be overwhelmed and have a tough time figuring out where the truly important notes are. To make things easier, only annotate the most important parts and quotes.
  • Chat with the book: Write your notes like you’re having a conversation with the story! Write down short questions and comments and avoid long sentences.

Annotate your heart out

The next time you pick up a book that you need—or want—to know like the back of your hand, or a book you just want a deeper connection with, keep this annotation guide handy. With a little bit of practice and a nice routine, the process will get easier and you’ll be a stronger reader overall. You’ll always be on the lookout for details! Think of annotation as a superpower to learn.

Do you annotate your books? What are some of your favorite tips and tricks? Tell us in the comments!

Blog about all things commonplace books: tips, how to's, and reviews.

How to annotate a book

In the last post I talked about why you should be annotating books alongside commonplacing, but here I want show you how to actually do it. Like commonplacing, annotating is a personal endeavor, so if you don’t like these suggestions, don’t use them.

Choose a writing utensil. Personally, I use the Pilot G2 .38. Most pens are took inky to be of much use in writing in the margins, but the G2 .38 is thin enough that it’s perfect. It’s point is like a needle. However, many people prefer pencils when annotating because there is no chance of bleedthrough and you can erase things later. Just remember, the thinner the point the better because you will be writing in small spaces.

Keep a list of vocabulary. Occasionally you’ll come across words you are unfamiliar with. This is a great opportunity to grab a dictionary (or Google) and write the definition in the margin or in a vocab list at the back of your book.

Summarize each chapter. At the end of each chapter, write a short summary of the events that occurred. I did this for Crime and Punishment and it was extremely helpful when writing essays or studying for tests. Instead of having to skim through the whole book to find a certain scene, I was able to check the summaries. Some people (including me) write the summaries on sticky notes and stick them in the book.

Follow key themes and motifs. For example, in Heart of Darkness it’s probably important to mark any mentions of hearts, darkness, or hearts of darkness. Or in Crime and Punishment you may want to follow how suffering, alienation, and guilt play a role. You can either do this by underlining or by having a highlighter color dedicated to a certain theme or themes.

Write any questions you have. I’m currently reading Atlas Shrugged and in the margins I’ve written a lot of questions I have about potential references to John Galt. Hopefully by the end of the book I’ll be able to go back and see that all of my questions were answered.

Dialogue with the text. Also in Atlas Shrugged, I have been extremely frustrated with several characters that have shown up. So I express that frustration in the margins, to capture the feeling I had when first reading it. These comments mostly consist of screaming at characters, “You’re an idiot!” or summarizing what they are saying in a sarcastic way.

Make connections to other books or ideas. Previous to reading Atlas Shrugged I read some of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, so I’ve been making note of when his nihilistic philosophy appears. For example, a man says, “the noblest ideal– that man live for the sake of his brothers, that the strong work for the weak, that he who has ability serve him who hasn’t…”. I marked this and wrote “corruption -> beyond good and evil” to remind myself that this is what Nietzsche hated and termed “corruption.” Also, when reading Brave New World I’ve referenced That Hideous Strength and vice versa.

Underline potential quotes for your commonplace book. This is my primary form of annotation: I constantly underline quotes that stick out or are extremely pivotal to the plot or a character’s development. A small fraction of these make it into my commonplace book, but doing this makes it easy for me to go back and look at all my underlined quotes and choose the best ones to include. If I see a quote that I know I’ll want to commonplace, I’ll underline it and draw a star in the margin.

Anyway, that should give you some inspiration of where to start when annotating. I hope this helped, and if you have anything else you want to know about, let me know!

Hello friends! Today I’m bringing you a follow up on one of my most popular posts – How to Annotate Books for Fun! I love annotating books, so I thought I’d go into some more details in this post and give you all some FREE printables! Let’s dive in!

Annotating for Fun!

I know a lot of people annotate books for school or university, but this post is more about annotating for fun. I love annotating fantasy and science fiction books, but my methods work for any book.

The first thing you need to know is that there are many possible ways of annotating books for fun. You can try them all and see which one works best for you. For me personally, it depends on the reason why I’m reading a book. I’ll get into that a little later. First, let’s go over my key!

Annotation Key!

My basic key for annotating a physical book looks like this:

Red – Scenes that make me angry/things I dislike

Pink – Romance moments / Friendship moments

Orange – Important Stuff/Relatable moments

Yellow – Worldbuilding

Green – Representation

Blue – Sad moments/scenes that make me sad

Dark Purple – Favourite quotes/moments

Light Purple – Character Building

You obviously don’t have to use all of these colours. You can also assign different colours to each category. So for example, if you want to use green for character moments, you can do that! I often assign different colours to different categories just to mix it up, or if I want the colours to match the book cover better. (You can download this annotation key below!)

How to annotate a book

For books I digitally annotate I only use four colours!

Here is my digital annotation key:

Yellow – Characters

Orange – Important Stuff

Blue – Favourite Quotes/Moments

Pink – Worldbuilding

These four colours came with my kindle, so that’s why I use them. If you use a different e-reader, you can use different colours.

Annotation Supplies!

Here’s where you can get super creative! I love stationery (who doesn’t?) and using all my pens to annotate. However, you don’t need anything fancy to do this.

How to annotate a book

Here are some of the basics you’ll need:

  • A black pen (I use one of those pens that you can erase! It’s super handy)
  • A ruler
  • A pencil (If you don’t want to write in pen)
  • Small sticky notes
  • Coloured pens
  • Eraser
  • Block sticky notes
  • Notecards

Let’s get into methods, and you’ll see what I mean when I say you don’t have to do anything fancy.

Annotation Method One: Simple

I often use this method when I’m reading large fantasy books or when I am buddy reading a book. I simply place one of the notecards every 50 or so pages and write my thoughts or small summaries when I get there.

This doesn’t take up too much time, and you don’t have to write in your books. You can always go back to those notes if you need to discuss the book. Or you can give yourself a recap if you read big fantasy books!

How to annotate a book

Annotation Method Two: Review

I use this method when I’m reading books for review, or when I make one of those “10 Reasons to Read …” lists. This one is really simple. You grab your black pen, a single colour of the small sticky note, and the block sticky note.

I used this method when I was reading Midnight Sun. I only tabbed with one colour and wrote down my thoughts. If you don’t want to write in your book, you can use the block sticky note to write your thoughts. You can also use this method on your first read-through of a book.

How to annotate a book

Annotation Method Three: Reread

I use this method mainly for books I reread, or in rare cases, for books I know I’m going to love. This method takes a lot of time, so I don’t do it often. With this method, I use highlighters, small tabs, and my black pen.

I’m currently rereading Gideon the Ninth and annotating it. So for when I want to tab a favourite quote, I use the highlighter to highlight the quote, then the correlating colour tab, and then I write in the book with my black pen.

How to annotate a book

I recommend this method especially for books that you reread. I highlighted so many worldbuilding sections and information that I know now is important because I know how the book ends. It’s immensely satisfying to be able to highlight all of the small things you might have missed on a first read.

Sometimes I use this method for first-reads when I know I’m going to love the book. I used it when reading Aurora Rising for the first time, and it was just as fun.

You can also use this annotation key that I made! You can download it, as well as an annotation guide, for free below!

Annotation Method Four: Full House

I will admit that I barely use this method, also because it takes a lot of time. This is much the same as method three, but instead of writing in a black pen, you write in the correlating colour pen. I don’t use colour pens that often, since I like the erasable black pen. But if you want to go for colour coordination, I highly suggest this method.

How to Annotate Books For Fun Guide!

Like I mentioned before, I have a whole annotation guide you can download and use for FREE! Check it out here!

And if you like this post, please consider supporting me by buying me a coffee!

And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed my How to Annotate Books for Fun post!

Annotating a book or an article is a fundamental school habit that you’ll want to develop as early as possible. As you move through school and your texts get harder and harder, you’ll need to know how to annotate text while reading.

First things first: Annotating means taking notes on a text – – either on a book or an article or something similar. So to annotate means to take notes.

You might be wondering why the heck you would annotate anyway(?). For so many reasons! The most important reason you would annotate is for a deep understanding of the material. Taking notes on your text helps you comprehend what you’re reading on a much deeper level than if you were to just read it straight through.

In this tutorial I’m teaching you how to annotate, but to get the most complete instruction, be sure to avoid these 6 common annotation mistakes.

4 major benefits of annotating:

  1. It keeps you awake and engaged as you read, and reduces your chances of “fake reading syndrome.”
  2. It helps you process what you’re reading as you’re reading it.
  3. It slows down your reading, which is actually a good thing. Decreasing your pace can often increase your comprehension and retention.
  4. It double-whammies as a way to quickly find information later on. In other words, when you go back into the book to find something later, you can just read your annotations, which is faster than reading the actual text a second time through.

So how do you annotate? There are so many ways. Just as there are so many types of learners, there are so many techniques that suit different students. You might have to experiment for a while to see what does and does not work for you, but there are some basic annotation principals, or rules, to keep in mind as you figure out your own system.

How to annotate text while reading: 11 annotation strategies you might find helpful:

  1. Circle unfamiliar words. Then look them up, and write down the definition.
  2. Use question marks to indicate areas of uncertainty.
  3. Use stars to indicate anything that seems important, such as themes, symbols, foreshadowing, etc.
  4. Use exclamation points to indicate something dramatic, or a key turning point.
  5. Circle character names any time they are introduced for the first time.
  6. Keep a list somewhere, maybe on the inside cover, of all the characters and their traits. Add to this list as new characters are introduced, or as you learn more about existing characters.
  7. Write your notes in the margins (best method), on sticky-notes (decent method), or in a separate notebook (least favorable method).
  8. Paraphrase (summarize) each chapter after you finish reading it. You only need a few sentences to do this. Write it down at the beginning or end of the chapter.
  9. Write down any questions you have about the text – either questions you’re willing to wait to find out the answer to as you read further, or questions you want to bring up to your teacher in class the next day.
  10. Use a color-coded system if that type of thing appeals to you. (Colors! Yes!)
  11. Give each chapter a title. After you finish reading each chapter, go back to its title page and give it a title. The title should simply be the main idea of the chapter, or a statement about the main event in the chapter. If the chapter already has a title, it’s likely just catchy and not helpful, so still go ahead and title it yourself.
  12. BONUS TIP: Become a master of the Highlight and Rewrite Strategy.

Note: If you’re reading a text on your tablet or ipad, you can still annotate! There are so many cool apps that allow you to circle, underline, highlight, doodle, whatever. Just do a basic search for “annotation apps” and you’ll find a bunch. iannotatepdf is a good one, as is LuminPDF and Notability.

One of the most important annotation strategies

When you’re reading and annotating, keep in mind that your notes should represent your thoughts. Your notes should represent your interaction with the story, the author, the characters, etc. Don’t worry about writing down “smart-sounding” notes just because you think that’s what your teacher wants. Let your annotations really reflect your true thoughts and feelings as you read. If you really listen to your inner voice as you read – the voice that says “Huh? Why did that happen?” or “That’s awesome!” or “That’s not a good sign,” then the whole process of annotating is so much easier.

Annotating text is a skill that gets easier the more you do it. As you first start off, you might not annotate much at all because you’re not sure where to start. (If that’s the case, keep checking back to my list of 11 annotation techniques to remind yourself of how to do it.) And it’s okay to be reserved as you start – you’ll figure it out soon enough.

But I’ve also seen the opposite, where a student underlines every single word on a page, or highlights the entire article or chapter. When you do this, nothing stands out, which defeats the purpose of taking notes in the first place.

Also, while annotating is an excellent skill that allows you to get that deep, close understanding of a text, you don’t need to do it all the time. If you’re reading a book for pleasure, just relax and read the book. If you’re reading an article in one of your favorite magazines, just relax and read the article. No need to make a job out of something that’s supposed to bring you joy.

Learning how to annotate text while reading can bring your reading comprehension to the next level. Try it. Why not?

If you’re struggling with taking notes during class, then check out my tutorials on that type of annotation:

I know you are familiar with annotation and you are reading this page to know the things you annotate in a book. I would love to give you an overview of what annotation is and if you are eager to see the things you can annotate, simply scroll down.

Except you were given an assignment, or in a deeper level of study, chances are, you may not want to annotate the book you are reading. To annotate something means to add notes no more than 150 words, highlight your favourite passage, insert simple commentary or explanation of the subject at hand. You can annotate books (both fiction and nonfiction), poems, articles, and even images.

Such notes are usually found in the margins of a text. When reading for pleasure, annotating is completely optional. Why? because you examine what you are reading on a deeper level, since they slow down and take the time to notice where they might have questions, identify symbols, or form opinions. You can see the list of things to annotate in a book below.

The following approach to annotating will help you to use your reading time to your best advantage.

  • Familiarize yourself with the contents of the book or article.
  • Examining the table of contents, the foreword, and the introduction can be helpful.
  • Read as much of the book or article (or watch the video/listen to the podcast) as is necessary to understand its content.
  • Outline or make notes of the information you think should be incorporated in the annotation.
  • Write a paragraph that covers the spirit of the book or article without undue emphasis on any one or more particular points.
  • Individualize annotations in the text; avoid using the same words and repetitive phrasing.
  • Write in complete sentences
  • The most effective annotation is tightly written with succinct and descriptive wording. Annotations are short notes and are normally no more than 150 words. Brevity and clarity are the goals.

17 things to annotate in a book

  1. Underline for key points
  2. Highlight new or unknown vocabulary
  3. Circle for transition points
  4. Questions/Confusing part
  5. Predictions
  6. Connections
  7. Date/Time
  8. Reference within text
  10. Evident
  11. Repeated words
  12. Conflict
  13. Character/Object Info
  14. Figurative expression
  15. Rhythms
  16. Visual
  17. Language

Why is annotating important?

Now that I have mentioned things to annotate in a book, see 2 reasons why annotating is important.

How to annotate a bookI have read and annotated my books for a long time, but I have always subconsciously been unhappy with the system I developed. So I’ve done some research, and come up with the following system. Feel free to comment on your own system.

Table of Contents

1. Running Page Headers

One of the things I love about the Table of Contents of some old books is that they include detailed descriptive section headers, and those section headers often adorn the top of the pages. Some bibles use this same method to help you scan pages for specific content (Figure 1 below).

This same method can help you return to a book you notated months or years ago and find the content you are looking for.

2. Vertical Importance Lines

I prefer these to mere underlining, for a couple of reasons:

  • You can more easily highlight longer passages, less ink on the page, and no having to be so careful to draw straight lines
  • It allows you to indicate the level of importance you assign to the passage via the number of lines you use (1 = good, 2 = very good, 3 = awesome!)

3. Underlining / Highlighting

There are still some times when you want to highlight individual sentences or words, even if you are using vertical lines on the side. For example, whenever I find a word I need to look up, I underline it.

I prefer underlining to highlighting, again, for a few reasons (YMMV):

  • No need to have a second writing implement (or more if you want to use various colors)
  • There is no need for color unless you have some color code in mind, but I find margin codes much more useful than a color code, you are not limited to your color pallete, which will max out based on how many colored pens you have at your immediate disposal.
  • Often, highlighted passages come out dark or black when copied

4. Margin Codes

Margin codes are one of your most powerful annotation tools. You can make an endless list of attributes, they are somewhat self explanatory (unlike a color coded highlight system that forces you to have a color legend), and they have a small footprint. Also, such text-based indicators are searchable in some PDF annotation programs if you are reading a soft copy.

Margin Codes I use (always being simplified and improved) include the following:

  • 1,2,3: Numbered lists noting progressive or itemized ideas in the text
  • AN: Anecdote, a nice verbal illustration or story
  • BIO: Biographical reference
  • BK: Book, a book is mentioned
  • CS!: Controversial Statement, a radical or controversial statement
  • DEF: Definition, either a definition is provided, or needs to be looked up
  • FCT: Important fact or data
  • FP: Foundational Principle, I come upon these often in Theological and Philosophic works
  • HIST: Historical Reference
  • LA: Logical Argument
  • NS: Non Sequitur
  • QS: Question
  • QT: Quotation, a quote you might like to reference later
  • REF: External Reference
  • SUM: Summary

5. Endpage Notes

When you want to make some extended thoughts, you have a few choices:

  • Separate Notebooks: This gives you unending space, but good luck keeping the notebooks organized and near your book.
  • Blog Notes: Yes, you can actually blog your notes, just be sure to include page numbers. You’ll always have the internet, right? This works for both electronic and paper books, it’s essentially an electronic Separate Notebook
  • Electronic Notes: If you are annotating on a Kindle or PDF annotator, you can keep extended notes in the book. This, of course, won’t work for paper books.
  • Endpage Notes: If you don’t intend on writing a book of your own, you can make some extended notes on the inside of the front and back covers. Just be sure to include page numbers.


That’s my method. I am currently looking into annotation programs for the iPad, I have to say, the Kindle app is not very good at annotation, but there are some PDF annotation apps that look promising, though each seems to lack at least one key feature. I’ll let you know what I find out.

I'm a high school student taking AP Literature and my teacher wants us to mark up the book (something like multi-color highlighting, post-its, underlining, etc.) while we are reading it. However, I'm not sure how to go about annotating on a deeper level beyond the questions and notes in the margins that I would do int he past.

What strategies do you suggest to mark up books?

It depends to a certain extent on you as an individual and what you're annotating it for. Usually if I am annotating a book it is for an essay assignment so that informs how I annotate it. Sometimes it is for an exam which is probably more similar to what you're doing.

First, I extremely rarely annotate on the first read through. The first read through is for me to identify the overall shape of the story, the characters, the major themes, etc. This helps me to identify what I should focus on in my closer reading. It also gives me the opportunity to enjoy the book as a reader before I tease it apart as a student.

Second, I identify which sections address the essay prompt, if I have one. If I'm prepping a text for an exam, I think about what kind of questions might come up. The most common question formats in my experience are 'how does. ' and 'what effect does. ', or sometimes both in one question, for example: How does the author use [device] and what effect does this have? Another favourite is 'to what extent. e.g. To what extent does the book explore [concept]? My annotations are based on answering these questions and noting what relevance a particular passage has to the question. I might repeat this process several times and still not feel like I've noticed everything, and that's okay, not every reader notices the same details.

You mention that your current technique involves noting down questions, to what extent do you try to answer them? If you can't, what effect does that have on your reading of the book?

As for the practicalities, I'm a post-it user. Sometimes I reread and decide past me was an idiot, so I can just layer another post-it on top with the new thought. Then sometimes I go back again and decide actually Monday me was onto something and Tuesday me should've thought it through a bit harder. I prefer not to colour code because a rigid system can prevent me from making connections between different aspects. This is very much a personal decision though.

Edit: I also recommend buying an edition with annotations and a good introduction. This will help with identifying, for example, bible passages and historical details. Just remember to cite them if you do use them in an essay.

To annotate is to actively engage a text by pausing to reflect, mark up, and add notes as you read. It can increase comprehension, help you remember what you’ve read, and save you time by not requiring you to re-read as often. The simplest ways to annotate include marking up the text by highlighting, underlining, bracketing, or placing symbols in the text or the margins, but simply highlighting is insufficient. Highlighting tells you that you thought something was important in the moment you read it, but when you go back later, you won’t know why you thought it was important. As you annotate, you’ll also want to add keywords, phrases, or questions, and make connections to the content.

While annotating, look for opportunities to:

  • Summarize important ideas in your own words.
  • Add examples from real life, other books, TV, movies, and so forth.
  • Define words that are new to you.
  • Mark passages that you find confusing with question marks.
  • Write questions that you might have for later discussion in class.
  • Comment on the actions or development of characters.
  • Summarize things that intrigue, impress, surprise, disturb, etc.
  • Note how the author uses language.
  • Draw a picture when a visual connection is appropriate.
  • Explain the historical context or traditions/social customs used in the passage.

Watch It

Watch this video lesson to learn about the value of annotation and how to do it.

Try It

Annotating a Textbook

Most textbooks are organized in similar ways, with chapters, sections, headings, visuals, and activities. Use this structure to help you break down the content in manageable chunks and to look for important concepts, facts, key terms, and theories contained within the text. Look for any sidebars and special features, and be sure to complete any practice questions or activities.

One great way to annotate a textbook is to create your own study questions based on the reading. After reviewing your notes, create study questions about important theories, facts, people, dates, and terms, then use the questions to quiz yourself.

Note-Taking strategies

There are several recommended note-taking strategies for textbook reading such as SQ3R or Cornell Notes.

SQ3R stands for:

  • Survey
  • Question
  • Read
  • Recite
  • Review

In this method, you first survey the text by glancing over the headers and major points. Then you turn the headings or the main ideas from the summary into questions about the reading. So if a header says, “Annotating a Textbook,” you could write, “What are methods for annotating a textbook?” Next, you read to find the answer. Then you try to recite your answer out loud in your own words, without looking at your notes. Then you can continue on, but remember to review your notes when you are done with your reading. [1]

Cornell Notes

Cornell notes are often used during a lecture but can also be used while reading a text. You begin by creating two columns on your paper—draw a vertical line about 1/3 of the way across a paper. On the right-hand side, you write down notes as you listen or read. In the left-side column, you add in questions and elaborate on the things you wrote on the other side. It follows this general structure:

  • Record: write down notes from the reading or lecture on the right side of the paper
  • Question: write down questions or keywords on the left side of the paper that connect to the notes on the other side.
  • Recite: Cover the detailed notes on the right side of the paper and ask yourself the questions from the left side, or use the keywords to see how much you can recite from the reading or notes.
  • Reflect: Think deeply about the notes and try to make connections between what you already know and what you learned.
  • Review: Review your notes frequently—before class, after class, before an exam, etc. [2]

Annotating a Work of Fiction

When annotating a work of fiction, such as a novel or short story, look for key elements, such as:

  • Characters: The protagonist is the main character and the focus of the story. They may be the hero, or anti-hero, someone who is flawed but still fulfills the role of the hero. There may also be an antagonist, someone who is opposed to the main character.
  • Setting: The setting is a place and time where the story unfolds. The setting may be current, historical, or invented.
  • The Plot: Many stories follow a predictable plot formula, which involves exposition (setting the stage), a conflict that causes action leading up to a climax, then falling action and resolution.

Figure 1. Identifying the 5 stages of a plot will help you as you annotate works of fiction.

  • The Point of View: The point of view is the teller of the story.

Figure 2. Recognizing which point of view is being used is another helpful tool in annotating.

  • Themes: Themes are the major ideas expressed in a story. Every story has one or more themes that it develops, such as “human endeavor is ultimately futile” or “working-class unity leads to successful resistance to oppression.”

Annotating an Essay or Nonfiction Book

Reading (and writing!) essays is an essential part of your college experience. Essays and books are usually organized around a central idea or argument, known as a thesis statement. And even though a book is longer with more room to develop ideas, both books and essays share a similar structure that has an introduction, body, and conclusion.

For many educators, annotation goes hand in hand with developing close reading skills. Annotation more fully engages students and increases reading comprehension strategies, helping students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for literature.

However, it’s also one of the more difficult skills to teach. In order to think critically about a text, students need to learn how to actively engage with the text they’re reading. Annotation provides that immersive experience, and new digital reading technologies not only make annotation easier than ever, but also make it possible for any book, article, or text to be annotated.

Below are seven strategies to help your students master the basics of annotation and become more engaged, closer readers.

1. Teach the Basics of Good Annotation

Help your students understand that annotation is simply the process of thoughtful reading and making notes as they study a text. Start with some basic forms of annotation:

  • highlighting a phrase or sentence and including a comment
  • circling a word that needs defining
  • posing a question when something isn’t fully understood
  • writing a short summary of a key section

Assure them that good annotating will help them concentrate and better understand what they read and better remember their thoughts and ideas when they revisit the text.

2. Model Effective Annotation

One of the most effective ways to teach annotation is to show students your own thought process when annotating a text. Display a sample text and think out loud as you make notes. Show students how you might underline key words or sentences and write comments or questions, and explain what you’re thinking as you go through the reading and annotation process.

Annotation Activity: Project a short, simple text and let students come up and write their own comments and discuss what they’ve written and why. This type of modeling and interaction helps students understand the thought process that critical reading requires.

3. Give Your Students a Reading Checklist

When first teaching students about annotation, you can help shape their critical analysis and active reading strategies by giving them specific things to look for while reading, like a checklist or annotation worksheet for a text. You might have them explain how headings and subheads connect with the text, or have them identify facts that add to their understanding.

4. Provide an Annotation Rubric

When you know what your annotation goals are for your students, it can be useful to develop a simple rubric that defines what high-quality and thoughtful annotation looks like. This provides guidance for your students and makes grading easier for you. You can modify your rubric as goals and students’ needs change over time.

5. Keep It Simple

Especially for younger or struggling readers, help your students develop self-confidence by keeping things simple. Ask them to circle a word they don’t know, look up that word in the dictionary, and write the definition in a comment. They can also write an opinion on a particular section, so there’s no right or wrong answer.

6. Teach Your Students How to Annotate a PDF

Or other digital texts. Most digital reading platforms include a number of tools that make annotation easy. These include highlighters, text comments, sticky notes, mark up tools for underlining, circling, or drawing boxes, and many more. If you don’t have a digital reading platform, you can also teach how to annotate a basic PDF text using simple annotation tools like highlights or comments.

7. Make It Fun!

The more creative you get with annotation, the more engaged your students will be. So have some fun with it!

  • Make a scavenger hunt by listing specific components to identify
  • Color code concepts and have students use multicolored highlighters
  • Use stickers to represent and distinguish the five story elements: character, setting, plot, conflict, and theme
  • Choose simple symbols to represent concepts, and let students draw those as illustrated annotations: a magnifying glass could represent clues in the text, a key an important idea, and a heart could indicate a favorite part

Annotation Activity: Create a dice game where students have to find concepts and annotate them based on the number they roll. For example, 1 = Circle and define a word you don’t know, 2 = Underline a main character, 3 = Highlight the setting, etc.

Teaching students how to annotate gives them an invaluable tool for actively engaging with a text. It helps them think more critically, it increases retention, and it instills confidence in their ability to analyze more complex texts.

So you are reading a book and all of a sudden you read a quote or passage that just speaks to you. How do you call it out? Today, we are opening the debate on how book nerds go about annotating their books.

If you’re lucky enough to own an e-reader, you already have simple solutions built in to your device or reading apps so we aren’t going to discuss those here. (Let’s put that as a point in the e-reader column in the epic debate between e-readers and real books.)
For those of you who prefer to read real books, you have a couple of annotation options. We discussed this topic in a recent Tea Time (fast-forward to 18:40) and came to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong way to annotate your books and everyone seems to have their own preference.
We took some photos of ways our community likes to take notes, but we’d like to hear what you think! Join us in the comments and tell us how you annotate your books or link us to a photo example!

This seems to be quite a popular option as normal sized or large Post-Its have room to write messages down and the sticky backing is preferable to regular pieces of paper because, well, you can stick them to things! Plus, Post-Its come in a variety of colors, so you could totes match your Post-It to your book.

This is similar to option 1, but instead of the regular or larger Post-It, we used these little sticky “flags”. There’s not much room to write anything on them, but they are small enough to keep in your bag so you can use them on the go. Plus, like the regular Post-Its, they come in a variety of colors so you can color coordinate your notes. For example: yellow flags signify quotes you like, green could signify passages you want to remember for your reviews and red could signify kissy scenes. . . or you know, whatever!

This is a classic we like to use in ARCs, paperbacks and sometimes in hardcovers (although it’s hard to mark up hardcovers, we like ours in pristine condition!).
There are a variety of options within this style of note taking. Let’s start with the style:
1.) Underlining
2.) Arrows, stars, parenthesi, ect.
Now, what utensil do you use?
1.) Pencil
2.) Pen
3.) Highlighter
If you take notes this way, how do you ultimately remember what pages you highlighted? A member of our team likes to list out the pages on the book’s title page as a way of indexing everything:

The other option we saw a lot of our members mention during Tea Time was keeping a notebook, (or a super cute tiny one like this!) nearby and jotting notes down in that. This is a perfect option for those that don’t want to mark up their books but also want more room for note taking than a Post-It offers.

One member mentioned that she likes to take pictures of her favorite passages with her phone and upload them to Pinterest or Instagram as a way of digitally cataloging her favorite sections.

Does anyone else think a thin bookmark that doubled as a tiny notebook and sticky flag holder would be ideal for annotation? (This was an idea also spawned during Tea Time.)
So which option do you prefer? Are there any ways of taking notes that we missed?

Published on March 9, 2021 by Jack Caulfield. Revised on September 27, 2021.

An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that includes a short descriptive text (an annotation) for each source. It may be assigned as part of the research process for a paper, or as an individual assignment to gather and read relevant sources on a topic.

An annotated bibliography can fulfill various purposes, from simply describing the sources to evaluating them and describing their importance for your own research.

An example of an evaluative annotation in APA Style is shown below:

APA Style evaluative annotation

Kenny, A. (2010). A new history of Western philosophy: In four parts. Oxford University Press.

You can easily create and manage your annotated bibliography with Scribbr’s free Citation Generator. Select the relevant source type, fill out the relevant fields, and add your annotation.

Table of contents

  1. Step 1: Finding and selecting sources
  2. Step 2: Reading and evaluating
  3. Step 3: Writing up your annotations
  4. Step 4: Getting the format right
  5. Frequently asked questions about annotated bibliographies

Step 1: Finding and selecting sources

The first step is to find appropriate sources. If the annotated bibliography is part of the research process for a paper, your sources will be those you consult and cite as you prepare the paper. Otherwise, the scope of your assignment and your choice of topic will guide you in what kind of sources to look for.

Make sure that you’ve clearly defined your topic, and then consider what keywords are relevant to it. List different variants of the relevant terms so that you don’t miss anything.

Use these keywords to search databases (e.g. JSTOR, Project MUSE, Google Scholar). See here for further guidance on keyword searching.

Sources can include journal articles, books, and other source types, depending on the scope of the assignment. Read the abstracts or blurbs of the sources you find to see whether they’re relevant to your topic, and try exploring the bibliographies of relevant sources to discover more. If a particular source keeps being cited, it’s likely to be important.

Step 2: Reading and evaluating

Once you’ve selected an appropriate range of sources, read through them, taking notes on each source that you can use to build up your annotations later. You may even prefer to write your annotations as you go, while each source is fresh in your mind.

What you’re looking for in the sources will depend on the kind of annotations you have to write. Consider the instructions you’ve been given or consult your instructor to determine what kind of annotations they’re looking for: descriptive, evaluative, or reflective.

  • Descriptive annotations: When the assignment is just about gathering and summarizing information, focus on the key arguments and methods of each source.
  • Evaluative annotations: When the assignment is about your evaluation of the sources, you should also assess the validity and effectiveness of these arguments and methods.
  • Reflective annotations: When the assignment is part of a larger research process, you need to consider the relevance and usefulness of the sources to your own research.

These specific terms won’t necessarily be used; the important thing is to understand the purpose of your assignment and pick the approach that matches it best.

Annotation is something that many dread, but some love. It can actually be really fun to annotate books, even if you have to use those annotations for academic-related purposes. However, annotating well is not exactly easy to do, and many don’t know where to begin.

In this guide, I will list five of the most helpful tips I have for annotating! I’ve been annotating books ever since middle school, when teachers required you to search for things such as literary devices. I used to just highlight random quotes and call it a day, which got me through all of middle school english. But now, I find it crucial to annotate well, since having an organized annotation system sets you up for amazing essays!

  1. Tab Your Books

This is one of the things that I find the most helpful while reading. Tabbing books makes it SO easy to go back and pick certain quotes that are helpful to your specific prompt. For those of you who may not know what tabbing is, it is essentially using those sticky tabs to mark down certain quotes in your book.

How to annotate a book

You can purchase the post-it tabs off Amazon or buy them at practically any store that carries stationary items. People often don’t tab books since it is a little time-consuming, but it saves lots of energy in the long run.

Personally, I like to color-code my tabs so that it is even easier to go back and choose quotes. My color coding guide is as follows, but you can do any sort of organization that you want! (this color coding guide is specifically for books that I read for school)

Red: characterization, quotes that sound important at the time

Orange: quotes that may be used to craft thesis statements

Yellow: overarching themes, motifs, complexities

Green: conflicts and tensions

Blue: literary devices and techniques, setting/world building, imagery, quotes that I liked

Purple (I rarely use this color): foreshadowing

By following this color guide, it becomes really easy to craft essays in short periods of time. Plus, once you are done tabbing your book, it gives off a feeling of accomplishment and looks rather aesthetic!

  1. Tracking

This tip is a little less known, but can be deadly useful. Tracking, for me, means keeping a tab on one specific thing as it occurs throughout the book.

For example, when annotating Where the Crawdads Sing, I specifically tracked every poem that was mentioned, as I felt that it was important to the plot and could be used in any essays.

Another less serious example could be in the Court of Thorns and Roses series, where I tracked every time the characters argue.

When tracking, I recommend using sticky tabs as well. However, don’t get these mixed up with your tabs! I always keep the things that I am tracking on the top of the book, while keeping all my tabs on the side of the book. Additionally, I only stick to one color when tracking, or else it gets too confusing.

Tracking is seriously such an underrated method in annotating!

  1. Highlight

HIghlighting is an extremely common method when annotating books. However, you should highlight with a purpose rather than highlighting anything and everything you come across.

I typically like to align my highlighting with my tabs, following the same color guide. I reserve highlights for things that aren’t important enough to be tabbed, but are still important nonetheless.

I also like to note setting and foreshadowing in particular when using highlighters.

A huge problem many readers come across when highlighting is ink bleeding through the pages. It ruins the book and makes the text hard to read. The key is finding a good highlighter. Some good ones I recommend are the Midliners and the regular Sharpie highlighters (though if you press too hard, it will bleed through!).

  1. Fold Corners

Now I know, some readers HATE folding the corners of their pages, and I totally understand. However, I’ve found that folding the corner for really important parts of the book helps me immensely when it comes to writing essays!

I’ll usually fold the corner of the exposition, the climax, and the resolution. That way, it’s really easy to go back and navigate the book, because I always find it hard to conceptualize when certain events happen.

Folding corners, however, are some reader’s ideal method of bookmarking pages. If you keep track of where you are through folding the pages, then this tip may not be for you as it may only confuse you. However, if you choose to use bookmarks or to simply memorize which page you are on, then folding corners is perfect.

  1. Note Taking

A huge part of annotating a book is the actual writing-in-the-book part. For me, I have found it the most helpful to go through a book and notetake TWICE.

The first time through is the first time I am reading the book. This captures all of the first impressions, shocking moments, and things that I think are going to be important themes. I always write down what I am thinking at that moment. For example, if a character suddenly dies in a book, I would write about how I felt that death affected the plot at that time. Of course, those inferences could be totally off, but capturing a first impression is always important.

I always write my first note-taking round in black pen.

As for the second time through, I use a different colored pen (usually blue) and mark all of the things that actually ended up being important to the plot. I also like to mark any foreshadowing that happened (but I didn’t realize during my first read). During my second round, I pay more attention to the overarching themes and base all of my annotations on that.

I write about how specific quotes contribute to the plot, and how they represent specific themes. I also like to focus on symbolism and irony when doing my second round of notetaking.

Notetaking as a whole is probably one of the most important parts of annotating. It captures all of your thoughts while reading, and is especially helpful for writing essays about books you haven’t read in awhile.

I hope that all of these tips help you find a starting point when annotating! Of course, you can always use your own methods, such as underlining and using sticky notes, but these are just the basics that I have found to be particularly useful.

Have you seen readers on Instagram, Youtube, or TikTok using book tabs and not sure how to get started with them? If you want to learn my full process on how I annotate books using book tabs, watch the video below or keep reading!

What Does Annotating Mean?

Annotating is the process of marking up a book to make note of things that are important or that you want to remember.

You likely annotated in school with highlighters and post-it’s, however, the process of annotating doesn’t have to just be writing in your books. In fact, most recreational readers would probably cringe at the idea so we use other methods, such as book tabs!

Is Annotating A Book Helpful?

This is totally subjective, but for me, annotation allows me to fully immerse myself into a story (probably sounds contradictory to some of you!) and to better recognize the important details.

I make note of all the things that are important to me (world-building, romance, quotes, etc. — more on this later) and it allows me to go back and reference things as needed.

I find that annotation is especially helpful when I’m reading books for read-alongs, book clubs, buddy-reads, etc. Having details and quotes tabbed really helps me to engage in the conversation and gives me specific references when we’re talking about certain moments.

The Best Book Tabs on Amazon

You might think, aren’t all tabs the same? My answer: No. Not even close.

I have tried a ton of different tabs from different brands and have only found one that I truly love. You can view and shop my favorite tabs here.

Here’s why I think they’re the best:

  • They come in a pack of 2000 for under $10
  • They are transparent (allowing you to see text underneath)
  • They have a pointed edge (allowing you to point at a certain sentence or paragraph)
  • They are easy to write on
  • They don’t ruin your page if they need to be moved, which a lot of other tabs are very guilty of!

Truly, they are the best of the best and everyone I know that has tried them has loved them! Plus, they will last you forever!

How to annotate a book

How I Use Colored Tabs to Annotate

So now you’re probably wondering, but how do I actually use the tabs!?

Well, it’s pretty easy. I use a color-coded system using five colored tabs. Each color has it’s own meaning in terms of what it represents in the book.

Here is what each tab color means for me:

Orange = World-building/Important Details
Pink = Romantic or sweet moments
Yellow = Favorite Quotes
Green = Most memorable/favorite moments
Blue = Sad or shocking moments

90% of the time, I use the same meaning for each color, but when I’m running low on a color or reading different genres, I’ll occasionally mix things up.

For instance, when I’m reading a romance book, world-building isn’t going to be something to take note of so I might change orange to funny moments instead.

This is why I ALWAYS make a key at the beginning of every book I tab.

Since the point of tabbing is to make note of moments that you can reference down the road, it’s not going to be very helpful if you can’t remember what your colors meant at the time you read it.

How to annotate a book

In the front or back cover, I always place one of each tab and write the meaning of that color.

That way, if I come back to the book down the road, I can reference my tab key and know exactly what each color meant at that time.

Once I’ve settled on my tab meanings and made my key, I just start reading and tab away!

My Most Frequently Asked Questions About Book Tabbing

Q. What’s the point of book tabbing?
Again, this is super subjective, but for me, it’s a way to note memorable or important details. I’ve found it to be super helpful when I’m reading a book for a book club or read-along.

Q. Do you annotate every book?
Definitely not. I usually only annotate books that I think I’ll really love, are re-reads, or are for a book club, read-along, or buddy read.

Q. Does it take you longer to read?
Nope! I mean, it probably did at first, but tabbing has become such second nature that I don’t even have to think about it now. Once you find a color key system that works for you, you won’t have to think “shoot, what color was world-building?” — your reflexes will know.

Q. Does tabbing take away from your reading experience?
Again, tabbing has become such second nature that it’s just a reflex. I can usually grab a tab and mark my spot without taking my eyes off the page. If anything, it makes me appreciate the story more because I am more aware of the content I’m reading.

How to annotate a book

About Me

Hey! I’m Danielle and welcome to Forever Booked Up! Here you’ll find book round-ups, best-of lists, reading tips, reviews, and more! If you haven’t already, follow me on Instagram and Youtube!

Annotating a text, or marking the pages with notes, is an excellent, if not essential, way to make the most out of the reading you do for college courses. Annotations make it easy to find important information quickly when you look back and review a text. They help you familiarize yourself with both the content and organization of what you read. They provide a way to begin engaging with ideas and issues directly through comments, questions, associations, or other reactions that occur to you as you read. In all these ways, annotating a text makes the reading process an active one, not just background for writing assignments, but an integral first step in the writing process.

A well-annotated text will accomplish all of the following:

  • clearly identify where in the text important ideas and information are located
  • express the main ideas of a text
  • trace the development of ideas/arguments throughout a text
  • introduce a few of the reader’s thoughts and reactions

Ideally, you should read a text through once before making major annotations. You may just want to circle unfamiliar vocabulary or concepts. This way, you will have a clearer idea about where major ideas and important information are in the text, and your annotating will be more efficient.

A brief description and discussion of four ways of annotating a text—highlighting/underlining, paraphrase/summary of main ideas, descriptive outline, and comments/responses—and a sample annotated text follow:


Highlighting or underlining key words and phrases or major ideas is the most common form of annotating texts. Many people use this method to make it easier to review material, especially for exams. Highlighting is also a good way of picking out specific language within a text that you may want to cite or quote in a piece of writing. However, over-reliance on highlighting is unwise for two reasons. First, there is a tendency to highlight more information than necessary, especially when done on a first reading. Second, highlighting is the least active form of annotating. Instead of being a way to begin thinking and interacting with ideas in texts, highlighting can become a postponement of that process.

On the other hand, highlighting is a useful way of marking parts of a text that you want to make notes about. And it’s a good idea to highlight the words or phrases of a text that are referred to by your other annotations.


Going beyond locating important ideas to being able to capture their meaning through paraphrase is a way of solidifying your understanding of these ideas. It’s also excellent preparation for any writing you may have to do based on your reading. A series of brief notes in the margins beside important ideas gives you a handy summary right on the pages of the text itself, and if you can take the substance of a sentence or paragraph and condense it into a few words, you should have little trouble clearly demonstrating your understanding of the ideas in question in your own writing.


A descriptive outline shows the organization of a piece of writing, breaking it down to show where ideas are introduced and where they are developed. A descriptive outline allows you to see not only where the main ideas are but also where the details, facts, explanations, and other kinds of support for those ideas are located.

A descriptive outline will focus on the function of individual paragraphs or sections within a text. These functions might include any of the following:

  • summarizing a topic/argument/etc.
  • introducing an idea
  • adding explanation
  • giving examples
  • providing factual evidence
  • expanding or limiting the idea
  • considering an opposing view
  • dismissing a contrary view
  • creating a transition
  • stating a conclusion

This list is hardly exhaustive and it’s important to recognize that several of these functions may be repeated within a text, particularly ones that contain more than one major idea.

Making a descriptive outline allows you to follow the construction of the writer’s argument and/or the process of his/her thinking. It helps identify which parts of the text work together and how they do so.


You can use annotation to go beyond understanding a text’s meaning and organization by noting your reactions—agreement/disagreement, questions, related personal experience, connection to ideas from other texts, class discussions, etc. This is an excellent way to begin formulating your own ideas for writing assignments based on the text or on any of the ideas it contains.

Renting books or borrowing them from the library is no doubt the cheapest way to read. However, you’re then under pressure to keep the books in their best condition to avoid extra charges. Websites like Amazon or Chegg say you can write in your books minimally—how much annotation is too much?

Don’t put yourself under pressure. Try these five ways to annotate books without marking them up.

How to annotate a book

Image via

1. Use color-coded Post-It notes

Sticky notes allow you to write down small annotations within the book without writing on the page. You can’t quite fit paragraphs of notes onto one little square, but you can jot down some questions or a few keywords to help you with studying later.

Post-Its also help with organization—choose a few colors and create a key for what each color means. For example, as the Performing in Education blog suggests, blue tabs indicate a main idea. Yellow tabs mark anything you don’t understand, so you know what to read over again later. Stick a green note to the page when you want to summarize a particularly lengthy or confusing passage. Finally, use a power verb to indicate what the author is doing on a pink tab.

If you prefer, this same method can also be achieved with sticky flags—in this case, a small note on the flag should indicate a corresponding longer note written in your notebook. There are also sheer flags that can be placed directly on the text!

2. Take notes in a notebook

This isn’t the most exciting method, and it can be time-consuming, but it is the most thorough way to annotate your textbook. You’ll need to have a spiral notebook handy when you read. Alternatively, you can use a small journal that’s easy to stash away in a bag when you travel.

How you jot down the notes is entirely up to you. You can be as detailed or organized as you’d like, but keep in mind that you’ll need to study these notes later, so they should be easy to follow.

When taking notes by hand, it gets overwhelming to decide what to write down. Focus on the important ideas, people, or terms in the text. Summarize the passages and define terms in your own words to make sure you understand what you’re reading. If you’re studying any calculations, include a few practice problems. When your notes reference a line of text in your book, be sure to jot the page number down for faster navigation.

How to annotate a book

Image via

3. Cover the pages with clear sheet protectors

If you’re the creative and crafty type, you can cover the book’s pages with sheet protectors. This method is similar to using sheer flags, except the whole page is protected. When the pages are protected you can go to town with underlining, writing, or highlighting. Trim the sheets to better fit the book and use dry erase markers. Once you’re all done with the book, simply remove the sheet protectors and run them under water to clear them off for reuse.

4. Download note-taking apps on your smartphone

We live in the age of technology—take advantage of that. There’s an app for everything, including book annotations. One popular app is Evernote, designed to keep you organized.

Evernote contains a camera feature for you to snap a photo of the pages you’d like to annotate. It’s better to zoom into the passages you’re marking instead of photographing the whole page. From there, you can highlight and add text next to the passage. Repeat this process for any other passages. It will seem time-consuming at first, but when you get used to the app, creating notes will only take a few seconds.

Sign up for Evernote for free here.

How to annotate a book

Image via

5. Find an online or e-reader version of the text

Before you rent a physical copy of the book you should predict how much you’ll be annotating the text. If you’re someone who frequently takes notes within the book’s pages, it might be a better idea to find an online version of the text instead. E-books tend to have annotation features built in.

When you rent an e-book from Chegg, for example, you’ll see options for highlighting and adding “sticky notes” to phrases that you select. Amazon’s e-reader, the Kindle, has note-taking features as well. When you’re all done with the rental book, the notes will be wiped away.

It’s usually cheaper to rent e-books, anyway!

If you need to mark up the book, write as little as possible. Remember those scary warnings from rental websites. Avoid highlighting, as it is too permanent. Write short notes lightly in pencil and erase them when you’re finished. If you prefer underlining or circling, only mark the most important phrases and keep it neat, even if this means using a ruler.

One of the greatest challenges students face is adjusting to college reading expectations. Unlike high school, students in college are expected to read more “academic” type of materials in less time and usually recall the information as soon as the next class.

The problem is many students spend hours reading and have no idea what they just read. Their eyes are moving across the page, but their mind is somewhere else. The end result is wasted time, energy, and frustration…and having to read the text again.

Although students are taught how to read at an early age, many are not taught how to actively engage with written text or other media. Annotation is a tool to help you learn how to actively engage with a text or other media.

View the following video about how to annotate a text.

Annotating a text or other media (e.g. a video, image, etc.) is as much about you as it is the text you are annotating. What are YOUR responses to the author’s writing, claims and ideas? What are YOU thinking as you consider the work? Ask questions, challenge, think!

When we annotate an author’s work, our minds should encounter the mind of the author, openly and freely. If you met the author at a party, what would you like to tell to them; what would you like to ask them? What do you think they would say in response to your comments? You can be critical of the text, but you do not have to be. If you are annotating properly, you often begin to get ideas that have little or even nothing to do with the topic you are annotating. That’s fine: it’s all about generating insights and ideas of your own. Any good insight is worth keeping because it may make for a good essay or research paper later on.

The Secret is in the Pen

One of the ways proficient readers read is with a pen in hand. They know their purpose is to keep their attention on the material by:

  • Predicting what the material will be about
  • Questioning the material to further understanding
  • Determining what’s important
  • Identifying key vocabulary
  • Summarizing the material in their own words, and
  • Monitoring their comprehension (understanding) during and after engaging with the material

The same applies for mindfully viewing a film, video, image or other media.

Annotating a Text

Review the video, “How to Annotate a Text.” Pay attention to both how to make annotations and what types of thoughts and ideas may be part of your annotations as you actively read a written text.

Example Assignment Format: Annotating a Written Text

For the annotation of reading assignments in this class, you will cite and comment on a minimum of FIVE (5) phrases, sentences or passages from notes you take on the selected readings.

The question I get asked the most is: how do you mark and annotate your books for effective note-taking?

Most readers are hesitant to begin marking their books, and I completely sympathise. It took me years before I realised that the sign of true love for a book , and respect for its author , is to make its pages as dirty with inky thoughts as possible.

This video breaks down my system for marginalia, marking and annotating books.

We’re talking about everything from creating indexes to reading synoptically. We look at fiction, non-fiction, poetry, philosophy and more.

There’s time-stamps for the video below, so feel free to jump around and go to the parts that interest you the most because, at just under 40 minutes, this is a long (but worthwhile) video.

How to Annotate Your Books for Effective Note-Taking


  • 0:10 – how to OWN a book & 3 different types of readers
  • 2:35 – books you DON’T mark
  • 3:20 – the books we’re marking in this video
  • 4:50 – my marking system (indexes, underlinings, circles, stars, etc)
  • 7:30 – rereading being the most important part of reading
  • 9:20 – consider the work as another art form (e.g. opera, painting)
  • 10:00 – tie your markings into your aim
  • 10:30 – slow active reading vs fast passive reading
  • 11:30 – the book examples
  • 11:40 – how to make an index (How to Read and Why by Bloom)
  • 17:49 – dog-ears and indexes (How to Read a Book by Adler)
  • 18:45 – indexes, notes, conversations (Plato’s Republic)
  • 22:43 – reading fiction like non-fiction (The Sign of the Four by Conan Doyle)
  • 24:48 – marking for memory (Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche)
  • 26:58 – marking philosophy and footnote follow-ups (‘On Liberty’ by Mill)
  • 28:39 – marking poetry (Rumi)
  • 30:57 – the Bible and keeping a journal
  • 31:48 – making notes on plays, King Lear, and scraps of paper
  • 32:36 – notes on computer
  • 34:02 – notes on Kindle
  • 35:45 – owning the greatest books ever written
  • 36:55 – marking fiction (Anna Karenina by Tolstoy)
  • 37:50 – 4 questions to consider when reading a book

Books you should buy and mark:

  • How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler (link)
  • How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom (link)

Explore further:

  • How to Write a Badass Book Review (Article)
  • Hardcore Literature Rumi (Podcast)
  • ‘My Last Duchess’ by Browning Analysis (Video)

What book are you going to mark first?

If you enjoyed this video, you may also be interested in this one on why I read:

Annotating a book is an art, and the digital world is making it easier, better, and more useful. E-readers, web tools, and annotation software have brought this age-old task into the 21st Century.
People have been hesitant in the past to annotate in their books, for chiefly two reasons. First, if they didn’t own the book, they didn’t want to incur the cost of buying it. Or if they were in college, they didn’t want to devalue the cost of the book to the point that they couldn’t resell it. That’s completely understandable and the proper thing to do, indeed. Although, a number of college students (well, my roommates at least) actually liked buying used texts that smart people had already highlighted, but that’s another story.
The second reason that people have been reluctant to annotate books is a bit more perplexing. Many people have attached some sort of misplaced devotion to the book itself. I mean they’re literally paying homage to the pulp that the author’s genius is printed on. They deem annotation as a mutilation of a masterpiece (a masterpiece of pulp, glue, and cloth, my friends!).

Three Kinds of Book Owners

Mortimer J. Adler summered up book readers in his 1941 essay “How to Mark A Book” in The Saturday Review of Literature:

There are three kinds of book owners. The first has all the standard sets and best-sellers —unread, untouched. (This deluded individual owns wood-pulp and ink, not books.) The second has a great many books—a few of them read through, most of them dipped into, but all of them as clean and shiny as the day they were bought. (This person would probably like to make books his own, but is restrained by a false respect for their physical appearance.) The third has a few books or many—every one of them dog-eared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, marked and scribbled in from front to back. (This man owns books.)

The Need to Annotate

Why annotate, though? Annotating gives readers a deeper understanding of content. Readers who actively engage the text remember the content longer than the casual reader does. It lets the reader get personal with the text by asking questions, clarifying and arguing points, and praising the author’s ideas. For writers, too, this is certainly the dream of what readers will do with their content–not not just read it, but devour it, and and ultimately possess the knowledge and not just remember it for a test.
Author’s certainly annotate when they read. Check out how David Foster Wallace annotates Don Delillo’s Players. As Adler might put it, that’s not an act of mutilation, that’s an act of love. The point is, great readers are doing this as they read. To some it comes naturally. Others have created their own process. Others, still, need to be taught how to annotate. Instructors should teach and model the annotation process to the readers who need it the most.
Keep in mind that highlighting text, while important, is the lowest form of annotation. You can see from Wallace’s annotations that there’s much more to annotation than highlighting text. Highlighting says you’ve identified something important, and you’ve changed its color. That’s a good start, but often highlighting becomes mindless and does nothing more than mark the trail that you’ve read (much like shaving cream does when you shave):
How to annotate a book

Digital Annotation

Some instructors have tried to get around the textbook mutilation issue by having students annotate on a separate sheet of paper, and this does help, but only by the slightest of degrees. Annotations really need to be married up with the actual text to get the full benefits of connecting the two and for reviewing later.
Digital books have broken this wide open. You no longer have to show some misplaced sense of reverence to paper by not marking on it. Instructors can now teach the art of annotation and students can interact with their digital texts in an active manner unlike in the past.

Annotating e-books is similar to how you would annotate regular books, or as my daughter calls them, “what our ancestors read.” E-readers allow virtually endless note insertions, where the users can make connections to the real world, ask questions, make predictions, voice disapproval or even outrage, dissect, analyze, ponder, and theorize.

E-readers let users go public with their annotations. Most have a “share” feature that sends annotations right to Facebook and Twitter for peers and the rest of the world to see. The Amazon Kindle store even features the most popular highlights right on its website.

Bet you didn’t know they were collecting that data! (A feature you can turn off, by the way. But why?)
There are numerous apps that let you annotate web pages and pdf documents, as well. If an assignment calls for students to read a web page, have them mark it up in Diigo. They can share their annotations with their instructors and make them public for everyone to see. All the app stores have great pdf annotators for tablets, and there are a number of web-based apps, too. Check out Notability and and Foxit to start with.

Future of E-Readers

E-readers, take note, you’re doing a brilliant job, but we need to draw in our e-book annotations, too. Currently, the Sony Reader is the only e-reader that allows the user to draw with the annotation tools.

Why is drawing so important? Using your visual, motor, and cerebral processes together help create new neural pathways in your noggin that stick. Drawing comes naturally to the genius thinkers in their note-taking process. (See Divinci’s notes here.) If your ready to take your note-taking or presentation skills to the next level, visual note-taking will put you over the top.
If you had misguided devotion to pulp and typography, you will be able to shed that in your e-books. Seriously, on the digital level, an e-book is just a bunch of 1s and 0s. Content reigns supreme here, as it should be.
Your students shouldn’t just be empty vessels when they read. Have them interact with the author. Annonating is the equivalent of participating in class. Soon all of our books on the shelf will function as art work. The real reading will go on with e-readers. The price and tools will justify it.

When you are completed, we’ll begin searching for the most appropriate essay author to include your wants The name of the finest essay writer is merely a result of efficient perform. The complete many competent article writers are prepared to assist you. Who are those expert essay writers you’re referring to, you might inquire. Offering essay writers for hire as you shouldn’t have to be concerned about the results once you just don’t have enough time, plus our expert authors are here in order to save the evening for you. One of the principal reasons why you might think about hiring article author within the nuance in place of a signed freelance author need to do with statistics. You’ve likely thought that we’re speaking about professional writers assist. Until you wish to ultimately be a writer, needless to state. One of the major advantages of hiring a web – based essay writer within our company is truly an assurance to deliver the very best academic writing solutions that fit every one of your demands along with your educational degree. Guess simply how much time it’s potential to save by hiring authors and allow them to reveal your weight. There’s absolutely no need to place your educational career in peril.

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Although it may often feel like a mere hindrance to enjoying a good book, taking good annotations can make or break a reader’s understanding of any text that he or she reads, whether it be a short story or a full-length novel.

Before starting, it’s important to emphasize an often overused phrase: to each his own! As any avid reader knows, marking up pages is an art and, like any art form, is a highly subjective process. As you embark on your journey to crafting a unique annotation style, here are some tips and tricks that could help you along the way.

How to annotate a bookTaking notes directly in the book margins can improve the effectiveness of your annotations. (Credit: Entropy)

1. Ditch the Post-Its.

Although it may seem like a literary crime, writing directly in the margins of any work can be very beneficial. Unlike Post-Its, margin notes do not obscure words and phrases within a book, making it much easier for students to reread different texts without removing all of their precious notes. Not only does it conserve paper and help the environment, but writing directly into his or her own copy of a book allows a reader to “mark his own (literary) territory.”

2. Think it, write it.

As a reader, one of the most frustrating moments is completely forgetting a Pulitzer-Prize-winning idea about any text. The moment a thought, connection or theory pops into your head, make sure to jot it down to prevent that elusive idea from drifting from your memory.

3. Jot stuff down—anywhere and everywhere.

Whether it be in the margins, on the inside cover or on any blank pages in a book, don’t be afraid to totally vandalize a book (as long as you own it, of course). The more people write, the more deeply they understand a text.

How to annotate a bookHighlighting and color-coding your annotations can help you pick out and organize important information. (Credit: Reddit)

4. Highlight. Highlight. Highlight.

Encasing your favorite phrases in an eye-catching color can often be the most helpful way to remember significant sentences within any literary work. Though it may seem tempting, don’t be too generous with your highlighting. Be sure to only highlight sentences or small paragraphs at a time—not entire pages of writing.

5. Incorporate some color!

Last but not least, color-coded notes can be extremely helpful for writing an essay or a research paper on a book, article or short story. A great way to use color is by making a “color key” that defines the meaning of each color. For example, notes or markings in red could represent potential themes of a book, while a blue colored pencil could emphasize important details that support specific main ideas within a passage.

Although these points are awesome ways to mark up your pages, annotating doesn’t always have to accompany a great book. It’s also perfectly fine to kick back, relax and crack open a good read pencil, pen and highlighter-free!

How to annotate a book

Natasha Khazzam is one of Guide Post’s editors in chief. She enjoys art, writing, learning foreign languages, and is the co-president of the French.

Child-abuse and endangerment has improved in Mo between 2009 and 2010 by nearly 8 percent, in line with the Mo Department of Social Services. Though 8 percent signifies an important climb, this merely refers to how many documented cases — unreported is gone by a lot more cases of endangerment. Mo has rigid regulations around the textbooks to safeguard kids from neglect and mistreatment. Physical/Sexual Physical abuse is identified by intent. This comes underneath the Missouri description of child abuse under Missouri Statute 210.110 in case a parent or parent intentionally inflicts pain on a child. It is not legal for anybody—a guardian, comparative, friend or caretaker that is temporary —to actually abuse a child. Physical neglect includes battery, coercion, harassment assault and imprisonment.

” in equity, similar scams have been documented by a great many cites.

In Missouri, it is authorized to use “reasonable pressure,” for example spanking, to discipline a kid. It’s additionally appropriate to make use of power to reprimand a young child if a household’s religious beliefs accept it. Nevertheless, if the child demands medical consideration because of this of control and gets significant damage, their state might intervene for the kid’s health’s welfare. Intimate punishment is known as child-abuse in all states. Including molestation how to write term paper rape, incest and porn. Mental/Emotional Mental abuse is considered child abuse under Missouri Law 210.110. Mental neglect includes all steps that result in psychological problems for a kid.

Demonstrate to them a method to avoid further mistakes instead.

Emotional abuse’s current presence is determined by deviance from typical behaviour in children. Actions in kids that’ll demand investigation are depression, hostility and disengagement from others. Neglect In Mo, performing something to bargain a kidis safety or leaving a child is considered neglect under statute 210.110. In several claims, Mo included, suppressing a kidis education likewise comes beneath the description of neglect. Mo identifies this as neglect, if a youngster is confronted with prenatal drug use. Additionally, whenever a child is subjected to use the production of illegal medicines, it is a class-C felony while in the state-of Mo. In line with the Missouri aclass C offender, Attorney-General, is punishable by as much as eight years in prison. If these measures occur in service or a routine, it’s a class B felony, which has a maximum consequence of 15 years in jail.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 30th, 2015 at 12:46 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Desire a way that is fast to report your traditional events? Microsoft Online supplies a variety of log themes to fit your requirements. Continue reading to discover more about utilize and how to get these themes appropriately. The Electronic Journal Publications are not the things they was previously. Our first journal was included with pink-covered pages, a heart-shaped lock, and two units of secrets. Fast forward 20 years and meet with the digital record. Cute or compact, nonetheless it may be accessed from almost anyplace and leaves a lot of place for deletion and records.

List your business brand and contact information below the planning.

You are taken by this article of fabricating your own personal electric record using Word, through the process. Heres What You Should Require: Microsoft Word later or 2000 An internet connection to download the themes Downloading Log Layouts Please check with the Word Templates area of this six – article line for more info. Ideas & Tricks Here are tricks and some ideas for customizing your own personal newsletters. Diversify. Never limit yourself to at least one kind of journal if you actually involve several. Like, you can generate one sort of diary to report another and your own personal entries to control your gardening, or items that are cooking. Office Online has plenty of themes to choose from based upon your individual requirements. Feel free to discover.

Formal letters frequently demand perhaps a format or a format.

Be constant. Put aside every single day, to report your ideas and experiences. Jot along it over a piece of report in case a thought jumps into your face before the period and move it around later. Be creative. Try adding Clip Art, shapes or images. Never control yourself to just plain text. Explore your creative aspect by adding two or a photo from a meeting and experimenting with various forms and hues. To find out more on dealing with designs, please see below.

Coach them to perform and write a successful home-evaluation to get started.

*Note: See Creating Greeting Cards with Microsoft Expression for further information on WordArt and editing and placing pictures. On applying Clip Art notice Producing Records with Microsoft Expression for further information. Working with Designs Patterns might help one to visually communicate your feeling. Contemplate introducing a to represent your emotions in case you are currently making a private just how to replicate a without write my essay for me your trainer finding out journal. You certainly can do this by creating a basic desk as detailed below. To make a mood/form star in Microsoft Word 2007: Select the Insert tab. Select Table and develop a desk with five lines and two columns.

Including a person support range gives customers ways if they get caught to contact you.

Within the first-row and column, kind Design. Inside the first-row and second order, type Feeling. Choose click Forms and the Insert case. A drop-down list of every one of the shapes will appear. By hitting it pick an appearance. A crosshair will appear. Press and get the crosshair below the Form planning straight to the mobile. If you’d like to color the shape Condition Styles > click a colour to use it to the shape that is current and Appearance Load.

Several forms have five paragraphs.

Inside the cell that is surrounding, type-a outline of the shape. Repeat steps 5 to 8 the cells until all happen to be packed in. save it and Format the stand while you want. You’ve now designed a brand new disposition star utilizing Forms in Microsoft Word! Working with Word Templates Learn modify and how to downolad Microsoft Word themes for handmade cards brochures, records, newsletters. Microsoft Word Developing Homemade Cards with Producing Catalogues with Microsoft Word Developing Log Records with Word Producing Records with Generating Flash Cards with Microsoft Word

It is bad enough whenever a stranger betrays you, however it’s especially painful when it is someone you reliable partner pal, or spouse and considered to be an in depth. It could feel like you were taken advantage despised, deceived, embarrassed, of, robbed, or stabbed in the back. Frequently it comes like a shock. Why it is therefore painful, that’s. You would not expect to be hurt so horribly from someone you imagined you might trust. And that means you are left in pain that was unbelievable and disbelief. Anyone who has experienced betrayal in a relationship knows how complicated it’s to recoup from such an experience. Anyone you imagined you can trust and count on isn’t any longer the individual you thought them to be. Which means you ponder what occurred. Were you simply wrong about all of them along?

Holdpreserving still is simple yet unbelievably crucial.

Possibly your romance so did their devotion for you and altered. Probably something in often or both of one’s lives has transformed plus they became not sensitive to you personally. Or, maybe you both expanded apart and in different recommendations. There are lots of motives that cause individuals to betray the other person. Sometimes they are meant and hardly unintentional to damage the other person. And often they are implications of possibilities that are made of doing any problems for everyone, with no purpose. Taking care of ones own desires could cause relationships they once appreciated to be disregarded by some people. They might have the connection is in how or much less important anymore. Sensations change.

Don’t bother about format! we’ll look after it.

So when thoughts change so do options and ones actions. Someone that seems their requirements are not being satisfied in a partnership may feel that the partnership is no longer significant or worth investing in. Consequently, they could seek to get their needs fulfilled elsewhere. This changes the connection. Eventually, it develops aside and options for betrayal emerge. Betrayal is a damaging power that leaves several damages in its journey. Everything is changed by betrayal. Connections and dozens of afflicted WOn’t be the same again.

I work for a town government and the mayor delivers a personalized card.

The injury done can not be reparable. Trust is dropped. Wounds run not shallow. Rage continues. Kisses are broken. Self-defensive surfaces are constructed. Pain is enduring and extended.

So you are doing what-you’re a natural at, and getting taken care of having fun.

And we wonder. Could trust actually be restored? Do wounds actually treat? May frustration vanish? Can bears be repaired? Can the home- surfaces that are defensive ever come down? Does the discomfort actually go away? Not simply does infidelity change associations, folks change. Anything occurs inside of them.

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They may find it too difficult to actually trust again. They might be less unguarded and protective of themselves of being susceptible for fear again. They might figure out how to be much more critical and less trusting. Their expectations of others might modify. They might think on their particular position and duty while in the relationship. Empathize they may attempt to realize, and forgive. They could be inspired to grow from the expertise and learn more about themselves among others.

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Betrayal’s discomfort is quite authentic and has a significant effect on the lifestyles of those individuals who have experienced it. It’s one of those distressing life encounters which have the energy to alter peoples bears and lives forever. You make the ache go away or can not change what has occurred for you if you have previously been betrayed. You will need time for you to grieve and feel irritated. You will need time to be comforted. In addition, you need time to regain your faith in others yet yourself. Infidelity hurts and there’s no fast and easy approach to recover from its impacts. It requires over period. It takes a heart that WOn’t harden.

It is a helpful and vital record that you should create.

It requires a consignment to think in others again. How it changes you is what things most; although relationships do change as a result of betrayal.

Hey guys,
So mainly for Paradise Lost, what with it being such a heavy book my annotations are mainly translations of sentences and definitions of key words, but i feel like everyone else in my class have got other sorts of annotations and really detailed and good ones.
Does anybody have any advice of what I should be annotating in particular, in Paradise Lost or any other texts in general?
Many thanks

(Original post by Fosbourne85)
Hey guys,
So mainly for Paradise Lost, what with it being such a heavy book my annotations are mainly translations of sentences and definitions of key words, but i feel like everyone else in my class have got other sorts of annotations and really detailed and good ones.
Does anybody have any advice of what I should be annotating in particular, in Paradise Lost or any other texts in general?
Many thanks

I haven’t studied Paradise Lost personally, but I have studied some rather long texts. It’s good that you have translations and definitions, they’ll aid you in your understanding of the text. One thing I would say though is to think about what certain lines are suggesting. I studied Lamia by John Keats at A-Level and the one thing I always considered in his poetry (and this has helped with my degree too) is how Lamia is represented. This is one thing you could think about with Paradise Lost. Google (although not always recommended) sometimes has some good annotation suggestions too.