Ok so I’ve finally gotten around to doing this highly requested post based off this post and I’m sorry to all those who had been waiting for ages for it to come out but here it is!!!
How to Annotate a Novel Efficiently
Look I’m actually doing the play Medea at the moment so this can be used for other texts apart from novels too!
Like I’ve said before, I know lots of people don’t want to taint their texts with writing and highlighting, but to me, it is so so satisfying when I finish with a fully annotated book with tabs flying out of every page and all that, plus it acts as a sweet resource once it’s done.
((Hopefully by the time you’ve gotten around to this level of annotating, you’ve read through your text already and maybe even put down some initial thoughts in the margins.))
To put it simply, I have three levels of coordination when it comes to annotating a novel: words, tabs and sticky notes.
1. Sticky notes
- Use for
big chunks of text you can’t fit in the margins of your book, such as summaries
of characters, themes, etc
- They can
also get those big chunks of info to stand out from the rest of the novel
- If you’re reading a larger text with chapters, it’s quite handy to use big sticky notes to summarise each section.
2. Tabs (and highlighting)
- Yep so
these are the tabs I have sticking out of my book and they’re used for quick
references, where I can easily search up a type of quote quickly in the novel
without having to flip through every page.
- The colours
of the tabs I use are the same colours as my highlighters, so it is easy to see
where the quote is and which tab it corresponds to.
- ACTUALLY HIGHLIGHT
the specific quote rather than leaving a tab there by itself, for future
reference when you need a specific quote, but if you’ve got a massive chunk
that is just too important to pick out a small quote, use a square bracket on
the inside margin. Smaller quotes are better.
- Have a tab
for broad topics such as characters, themes, literary devices, plot developments,
context, etc. If you have more colours, you can always make your categories
more specific (for me, the character of Medea is separate to the rest of the
- I write
the main idea on the tab itself, a.k.a. the reason why I highlighted or tabbed
that quote there.
quotes to highlight depends on
a) What we go through in class
b) What is written as an important quote in the text guide we are given/the internet suggests
c) What I think is important. If you’re not sure, ask yourself WHY is that quote important and if you can answer that, highlight it!!!
- The further
explanation of quotes is written on the actual pages, and often right under a
tab to elaborate.
- I recommend
using a thin pen as in 0.38 to really fit in as much as possible.
- This step
as well as tabbing is so so important, because you can highlight as much as you
want, but it really won’t mean anything until you’ve written down its
significance, and even if you have an amazing memory, this is vital ok. Even a
few words along the margin explaining the quote can mean the difference between
good writing and great writing in your upcoming essay.
- What do I
actually write? If it’s a literary device, I’ll name it (e.g. Metaphor) and
explain its symbolism, or the author’s intention for putting that in. If it’s a
theme related quote, I’ll explain the message that the author is trying to
convey through that quote. If it’s a character related quote, I’ll explain how
that quote adds to their character, maybe finding contrasts, etc.
- Supplies that I used
- Mildliners (pink, orange, yellow, blue, aqua; gotta get that colour coding)
- Pilot Frixion Point
- Uni-ball Signo TSI (erasable like the frixion pen so that if I’m not too sure about what I’ve written as an annotation, I can check with the teacher and erase if need be)
- A set of 1000 tabs in total, divided among pink, orange, yellow, green and blue
- Pastel square sticky notes
As an optional step, I highly recommend making use of the back cover or spare pages in the book. I use them for writing definitions of recurring words, good vocabulary to use in the future when writing the essay and also character maps, explaining the relationship between each character.
I hope you all find this helpful!
((disclaimer: this is just how I do it so don’t shank me pls))