Not familiar with annotation? Learn about this helpful study strategy with these tips from Evanston, IL and online tutor Rachel M.:
Annotation is an important tool to use while reading for many reasons that are multifaceted. When you read without annotating, you do not always retain the information, absorbing words passively instead of analyzing the text. Reading anything for academic purposes (such as a book, newspaper article, or essay) is enhanced by taking notes while you read.
The benefits of learning about annotating text are apparent:
- Better understand what you are reading. Reading without questioning is like hearing without listening. Annotation is an active process that helps the reader think critically about ideas and concepts that will be used later. This is the difference between just reading, and reading for comprehension.
- Remember important key concepts and plot points. In addition to helping you understand what it is you are reading, writing down vital information will reinforce it and help you recall it later. Annotating text is important for daily homework review, essay writing, and studying for the test.
- Read for knowledge, not for credit. Annotating while you read will save you time by not having to go back later to read an entire section. When you already have notes in the margins and key points highlighted, your eye is naturally drawn to the page and excerpts that you will need to review later. Instead of reading something three or four times, annotating could save you that time and effort.
Knowing what and how to annotate will be somewhat subjective for each person, as different types of people make different types of notes. However, here are some helpful tips of what to look for when annotating.
1. Circle new vocabulary words.
Always remember to keep a dictionary next to you while you read so you can look up new words or phrases. Sometimes you can guess the meaning of a word by the context of the sentence or excerpt, but not always. Make sure to look up all new vocabulary terms in the dictionary. Write the meaning of the word in the margin and an explanation if applicable.
2. Underline new characters and place names.
Keeping track of new key characters will help in the long run when you need to review for a test. It helps to circle the first instance of each character’s introduction, plus any example of a passage in which the character asserts his/her personality. Circling the characters’ names in each important scene will reinforce your ability to cite references to use in subsequent essays, as well.
3.Write your own thoughts and opinions in the margins.
Often when you read something for the first time, your thoughts and impressions are different from subsequent readings. You generally tend to pick up on new or different things each time you read something. For this reason, it is beneficial to write down your thoughts or interpretations of a section each time you read and reread it. At the very least, it could be interesting to go back later to see what you were thinking when you read a chapter. At its most useful, this skill will help you develop an important note-taking habit to use for future literary analyses.
If you are a student in eighth grade or a higher grade level, you should know how to annotate. It is important to learn this skill earlier rather than later, because even though many high school teachers require book annotations as homework, the knowledge of annotating text will serve you well long after your school days have ended.
Rachel M. tutors various subjects in Evanston, IL, as well as online. She has an extensive background teaching and tutoring others, especially in ESL, English, French, and special education. Learn more about Rachel here!
Photo by Kamal Hamid