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WAB Learns

Taking Notes: Annotating

How to Annotate

Annotating is reading a text actively, in a way that deliberately interacts with the text to enhance your understanding and recall. In English class, you probably call it a "close reading." But whatever it's called, annotating usually involves highlighting or underlining key pieces of text and making notes in the margins of the text. 

Annotating a text helps you understand what is happening in a text after you've read it. Annotating will help you summarize a text, highlight important pieces of information, and prepare yourself for discussion and writing prompts that your teacher may give you.  You will make connections, ask questions, find the main idea and supporting examples.

1. Skim the text.

  • Read the first few sentences of the first paragraph
  • Identify the main idea  and underline it
  • Continue with the rest of the paragraphs

2. Read the text

  • Now that you know the main focus, read through again for the details. Highlight important  details only.
  • Write questions or comments in the margins
  • Circle vocabulary you don't know, to look up later
  • Draw arrows to make connections

1.  Use post-its in a textbook

2. Be consistent: circle key words, highlight main ideas, underline important details.

3. Use a color scheme for highlighting: yellow for definitions, blue for questions, orange for something you don't understand

4. Use the margins for different tasks:  Choose one margin to write questions or clarifications, the other to comment or respond