Many times language and literature classes require students to annotate the books that are given to them, but in many cases tips and advice on how to do so is lacking. I will be sharing my personal strategy for efficient and successful annotating that will not only help your understanding of the text but also gain the love of your teachers!
The tips have been divided into 5 components, each with their own explanation.
Sticky Tabs are Your Best Friend
I don’t know how I would manage to annotate without my sticky tabs. They help me organize and navigate the book before the reading, remind me what to look for while i’m going through the text and help me find whatever I may need once I get to further analysis for the class.
Create a key for your tabs, personally I use five colors each having a few specific purposes based on where I place them in the book. Most stickies are accompanied by a specific note that will remind me of what I wanted to point out, these stick out of the right margin.
Pink- Anything to do with characters, be it development or certain traits to remember. It can also be used for when you have questions about character related aspects of the text.
Orange- Refers to setting, in plays it is also applicable for stage directions.
Yellow- Is used for literary devices and use of language (tone, diction, patterns) and syntax, if there is a particular word the author used or a structure you want to take note of, this is the color to use.
Green- Applicable to any important plot events, notable scenes or things that you think will be significant later in the story.
Blue- Themes and context of said ideas, anything to do with time, place and space in which the text takes place. It can also relate to how your context (a student reading a book for a literature course) impacts your perception of the text.
These are the things teachers usually look out for and it is certainly useful in any kind of further task!
The top and bottom margins can be used to divide the book in to sections, such as chapters or scenes, mark the most important pages and to also highlight text to text connections. These colors you can pick yourself!
I do not recommend having more than 5 sticky tabs per page, otherwise it gets too crowded and they lose their purpose! (but you will still need to buy aaa lloootttt)
This is my key for the book I am currently annotating, Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.
Don’t Overdo it With the Highlighter
Find one color highlighter that you like the most and use it to mark explicit words or phrases that catch your attention, you can also use them in correlation with you sticky tabs!
I prefer to use a yellow highlighter because it seems to bleed the least, and I usually use it in relation to the the yellow and blue tabs because those are the ones that relate to the most detailed and minute parts of the text. Once again you can find your own preference! But don’t overdo it, otherwise, like the tabs, the highlighter will lose its function to highlight important points.
This is an example of how much highlighting I usually do. For non-fictional texts or parts of a book (like in the introduction you see here) I reserved highlighter for dates and names.
Have a Conversation With the Author
This is one of the first tips that my high school teacher gave me and it’s really one of the most important ones to remember. And I know, it may sound kinda silly, but I find that it really helps me in developing my ideas and remembering exactly how I felt about a certain aspect of part of the text.
Whether the text is fiction of non fiction, anything in between, you can always do these few things
Ask questions- As if you were going to get an answer, ask questions, write them down and write down as many as you want. Writing things down helps people remember so then it is more likely that in a class discussion you will be able to recall your queries or wonders.
If you don’t like something, or you’re surprised by something, write it down! Use exclamation marks, use words that you would use in a regular conversation. I always write ‘WOW!!’ or ‘OMG’ when i’m especially impressed, and having such vocal- well written vocally- emotions will bring you closer to the subject of the text.
Talk to the characters as well, if you are questioning a character’s actions ask them and provide an explanation as to why you speculate they may have acted a certain way. Not only does that further contribute to your involvement (also making things more entertaining) but it also deepens your thought!
What i’m trying to say is write down anything that comes to mind, your first response is your true response, and it is a valuable addition to your notes! And if you want to write a whole essay in between the lines… Actually, i’ll come back to that later!
Pens, not Pencils
I used to make notes completely in pencil but my approach changed when I realized that overtime the pencil would rub off and get illegible. I think it was because I used my book so much, but having switched to pen I realized that it helps me in quite a few other things as well.
The good thing about pen is that you can’t erase it and let’s say you started writing down a note, scan down the page and realize what you are taking a note of is completely wrong. That’s ok! That’s actually really good! Don’t scribble out what you just wrote down, but instead continue and explain why you may have thought a certain way and what your understanding is now. That relates really closely to the previous note.
Evidently pen also appears darker on the page, then there’s no possibility of it ever disappearing. It also won’t smudge or bleed as long as it’s ballpoint! That’s a good thing when drawing arrows between lines, underlining in addition to your highlights and circling/boxing whatever you deem necessary.
Time, Effort and Commitment
It’s clear that this post took me a while to make, and it took me a while to develop this system with all of the things that I have considered. So it must be self evident that using this type of annotation won’t be quick. It might get tiring at some times, and for me it really does, but at the end I find that it always pays off! You have to stay committed to this technique, you have to put in the same amount of effort for every page, which means you need time. So here are a few final general tips I will leave you with.
Don’t procrastinate! As goes for any task, and this one more than any, don’t waste time getting to it! I advice you check how many pages you have in total and make sure that you do a certain amount per day (usually 5-10 pages a day is good!)
If you go off on massive tangents in the side bars, make sure that you don’t get too distracted by them because they will take up a lot of your time. But one now and then may be good! Be sure to mark it for later reference!
Play mind games with yourself. This one is actually pretty interesting but it personally gets me a long way. If you have 20 pages left, don’t look at it as 20 pages but instead as 4 times 5, then the amount will seem a lot more manageable! It’s a kind of self encouragement!
That can also be said by looking now and then at how far your bookmark has moved through the book and giving yourself a pat on the back for all of you hard work!
That’s all I have for now! If you have any further questions for advice or explanation please message me and I will be more than happy to help! And I hope that this helps some people out too! (I’m counting this as 21/100 days of productivity as all I did today was related to annotating.)
perfect posture sitting at a desk, colored gel pens in a cup, candles, homework in perfectly aligned stacks and clipped neatly on clipboards, Cornell notes, color-coded planner(s?) full of lists, dates from your syllabus input the very first day of classes, Pomodoro timers ticking in the background, highly focused with no music and no distractions, a bite of an Oreo as a reward for every page read, post-its for everything
instant coffee that's getting cold, Netflix playing alongside a Google Doc study guide, late night study sessions alone in a dark dorm room, constantly texting your best friend trying to help them pass and convinced teaching them is also helping you, responding to intrusions with sarcasm to hide happiness that hey at least this means it's break time, under a lot of stress but never quite enough to quit Netflix
sitting in a library the first week of school, papers scattered all around in "organized chaos", reading ahead for your classes, a BIC ballpoint and yellow highlighter in your hand, losing points on assignments by overthinking everything and forgetting to answer the actual questions and then emailing your profesor, textbooks on the side that have nothing to do with the classes you're taking, dinosaur socks, debates everything and acts annoyed but definitely enjoys it, decaf coffee but if anyone asks it's a triple shot
studying with friends at Starbucks with a no whip mocha frappuccino, asking one another for help, making flashcards to quiz each other with, notes with purple pen and metallic gold for the headers, pop music playing over headphones, every Mildliner in your Kipling 100 pen case, hair up in a clip, planner that you fill only around exam time, doodles on everything, somehow finding yourself on pinterest or online shopping
midterm? there's midterm?, cramming the night before, texting friends for help but they're all asleep (except maybe Joey), energy drinks and junk food, scrawling notes out in pencil on scrap paper even though you'll never have time to review them, watching Khan Academy and other Youtube vids on 1.5x speed, migrating to work on your (unmade) bed even though you know it's a bad idea, waking up without realizing you even fell asleep and then setting five alarms for the morning, understanding the fact that you do well under pressure
messy buns, sitting outside either on a picnic table or the grass, you can be alone or with friends you'll do fine either way, rings glinting in the sun, losing track of time, snacking on nuts, an 8tracks playlist of indie alternative music mixed with some electro everyone's surprised about, you don't show off how much you know so you're constantly underestimated, coming up with rhymes and mnemonics to memorize things, pressed juice in a reusable bottle as well as some tea in a old pasta sauce jar, essential oils, Tumblr during study breaks
🌈🌈things to improve your health and overall well-being🌈🌈
-silk sheets and pillowcase: prevents hair breakage and damage, prevents wrinkles and acne, feels good
-Epsom salt: add this to your bath and it’ll help cleanse and detox your body while helping you relax😎
-candles: the aesthetic of them with the scent can really help you chill out if you’re feeling uncomfortable
-humidifier: keeps moisture in the air which helps your skin and respiratory system
-tea: really good for you internally (fights free radicals, helps skin, etc.) but also has benefits topically. put on skin as toner/part of a face mask, can be used to tint hair (black tea=brown/black, chamomile tea=yellow highlights/naturally lightens hair, etc.) as well as improve scalp health
-plants: improves air and removes toxins, thus increasing your overall health and comfort
erased the ink - An alternate path to the soulmate AU where soulmarks appear one letter at a time, and fate disagrees with Yuri.
I Caught Fire (In Your Eyes) - Once you meet the person you’re destined to be with for life, and the more you interact with them, your soulmate’s favourite thing about you starts appearing somewhere on your body, as if you were, very slowly, getting a tattoo.So, after getting reacquainted with Otabek and hearing his thoughts about Yuri’s eyes, it’s a bit of a surprise for him to see his own green orbs getting more and more defined on his chest as they continue to talk during their time in Barcelona.
Proud Like a Lion - Yuri Plisetsky does not believe in soulmates.Perhaps, however, he could believe in Otabek.
Real Love - With the sudden appearance of a soulmate tattoo, Yuri doesn’t know what to think. All he knows is that he wishes it’s his best friend.(Strangely, Otabek has the same thoughts)
Two Hands to Hold - "We were given two hands to hold, two eyes to see, and one incomplete heart for someone else to find.“Yeah, whatever. More like two pains in my ass and two fingers to tell you to fuck off.Yuri Plisetsky, lead singer for The Unbroken, never wanted love or a soulmate. Love makes you weak and soulmates just fuck it up for everyone involved. The bond isn’t some ‘rare treasure to cherish and behold’, it’s a fucking death sentence for your career, for your friends, for everything.Then he starts touring with Ellips and their bassist, Otabek Altin, and everything goes wrong.
write my name on your skin -
A soulmate AU where soulmarks appear one letter at a time, and when Yuri wakes up on his birthday and sees the letter O on his arm, he tries not to wish that it continues into Otabek Altin.
Отабек – сторонний наблюдатель, но уж точно не любитель встречать новых людей; он убеждён, что, с большой долей вероятности, проживёт счастливо и без своего соулмейта, чьи грубые слова прожигали кожу на теле.
First Words tattoo
A Yellow Highlighter- Too bad Otabek is a people watcher, not a people meeter, and on top of that he’s convinced he would probably live a happier life without meeting a soulmate whose first words to him are rude ones.
Call It Even- The Soulmate AU where the first words your soulmate ever says to you are written somewhere on your body.AU where Yuri is a tattoo artist and Otabek is a florist with a shop right next to Yuri’s tattoo parlor.Someone has been stealing flowers from Otabek’s garden, but when he finds out who he is shocked.
Loving words- The first words your soulmate says to you are tattooed in some part of your body on the youngest one’s 14th birthday. Otabek wakes up on a first day of March with the words “what’s with you, asshole?” tattooed on his shoulder blade.
Permanently - The soulmate au where the first words your soulmate says to you are tattooed on your skin. Otabek can’t wait to get his but the mark is not what he expected. Neither is his soulmate.
by the nape of my neck-
Everyone has a counter that ticks down the hours until you first meet your Destined; your soul mate. Yuri Plisetsky has been actively ignoring his timer for the last eight years. That is, until it’s dwindled down to zero behind his back, and he has no idea how or when he met his Destined in the bustle of St Petersburg
“Why not?” Yuuri peered into the younger boy’s face with a genuinely worried expression. “I… I don’t think I could take it,” he whispered. And he didn’t know what crazy demon overtook his body, but he lifted his left wrist for Yuuri to see, showing him the six numbers that still occasionally haunted him in his sleep.
if Aphrodite gives a shit-
A pairless human is about as rare as a unicorn, so of course Yuri is one. When his timer went off at Yakov’s summer camp, his was the only one that went zero. Cursed, people call him. Fuck off, Yuri tells them.
A Blank Canvas - Soulmate AU where everything you write appears on the skin of your soulmate. For Yuri Plisetsky that had never been the case.
A Perfect Person-
Having come from a broken home he dreamed that he would have a soulmate. A person who would be there for him no matter what.
AU where you can find both your love and friendship soulmate AU where Beka wants to be real friend to Yuri, not just something he is destined to be AU where Yuri doesn’t give a fuck about all that soulmate shit It is a soulmate AU where they both ignore soulmate-ness most of the time and become best friends just because they want it And then they become something more..
Green - There was a color he could only hear in stories, a color he had relentlessly bedeviled his parents to describe every night before he slept, a color that he was destined to never see, until he had met ‘the one’.The salient shade of green was everything that Otabek had imagined. A deafening tranquil. Otabek sought solace in this foreign hue, until he caught himself staring.The eyes of a soldier. He swore he would never fail to remember in his lifetime, even as he unwillingly tore away from the eyes he would peer into for hours on end.It dawned upon Otabek that this prodigy was meant to be his soulmate. But something was wrong.
The Theft of Winter -
There is a place far away, where Winter and Summer are eternal. Where Fae war and love in equal measure and sometimes simultaneously. This land is filled with tales, old and new, of varyingly truth and notoriety. The most beloved tale is also the most true. A tale of a Winter Prince who knew not of love and the Knight who taught him…