How to Annotate Like a Pro
I consider as lovers of books...those who, by nightly as well as daily use thumb them, batter them, wear them out, who fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds, and who prefer the marks of a fault they have erased... - Desiderius Erasmus
What is Annotation?
Annotation is a fun, engaging learning method that academics, professionals, and readers alike enjoy! By definition, annotation is an active learning strategy used to enhance your comprehension of text and retain the information learned. Typically, annotation is used for studying, digesting new material, or as a fun hobby. You’re more likely to remember what you’ve read, improve your observation skills, and enjoy the time spent with the text if you practice annotating while reading. Let’s consider how you can annotate academically, professionally, and personally – like a pro!
Annotating Texts – Academically, Professionally, + Personally
Begin by noting what you’re expected to learn from the text. An important part of annotation is not simply highlighting, but using it in such a way that you are able to relate the text without having it in front of you. A great tool for this is using margin or a separate space, such as the Cornell Style Note Inserts or España Spiral Notebook | A5 | Mykonos (Cornell Interior) to take notes about your annotations. Once you've established the main idea, or what you're learning from the next, start summarizing key phrases or quotes in your own words. There's likely educational patterns within the text, so try taking note of key concepts/phrases that are recurring in the material.
Everyone learns differently, so the same is true for annotation methods. Try different methods to activate your thinking! Start by balancing how much information you include in your annotations. Too much information creates the same mental load as simply reading the text, while not including enough misses the core information that you need. To balance this, try creating an annotation key. The Half Page Graph Inserts work great as a key, while the Zebra Sarasa Mark On Pen is perfect, as it is specifically made for annotation purposes, meaning it's quick-drying and won't cause smearing! Here are examples for creating an annotation key:
- ? = you have a question; investigate further
- ! = interesting or to note
- " = evidence or key quote
- * = example supporting the main idea
- + = relates to your own interpretation
Part of what makes annotation fun is the fact that you are holding a conversation wth the text, directly engaging with it. Don't shy away from writing down passing questions or comments that you have! You may also want to mark within the text instead of using separate tools - mark away! As Desiderius Erasmus said, "thumb them, batter them, wear them out,.. fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds..."
In this case, grab the High Level Highlighter in colors Frost, Glacier, + Ocean (to match the Mykonos notebook!) While you're at it, the Matchstick Page Flag Set | Vol 1 and Page Pins function as great page markers so that you can find all of these quotes and exciting passages!
Just as we mentioned earlier, everyone learns differently, and so everyone annotates differently. If you're someone who prefers to (or must) leave the text in pristine condition, no worries! The Transparent Sticky Notes and Transparent Pill Tab Sticky Notes were practically made for you. Layer these over the material, then write your annotations, highlight, and mark away! (We recommend the Uni Pin Marking Pen to write on the transparent material). The best part? The sticky notes can be removed and transferred to your notes, keeping everything in one place!
The beauty of annotation is that it becomes whatever you want it to be while increasing your critical thinking and observation skills. So go ahead, pick up your books and be sure to batter them, wear them out, fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds, and watch how the text speaks back.
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