Are you perhaps looking for a thorough guide on How to annotate a book?
Look no further!
This Article covers all you need to know about how to annotate a book as a beginner and will help you get the question off your mind. So, read till the very end!
First things first,
What does Annotating a book mean?
Annotating your Books means adding brief notes to the text, usually by Underlining Points of Interest, summarising tricky passages, expressing yourself, or simply recording your thoughts about the book.
Annotating-Reading can be called Close Reading or thorough Reading in which the reader deeply understands the text. It is a creative way to fully immerse yourself in the text and understand what the Author is trying to symbolize.
While some always annotate a book when they read because of something they want to retain in their memory, when they intend to pursue an Idea further later, or just because they thought it was beautifully delivered. Subsequent others may find it Irritating based on their perceptions.
Benefits of annotating books
Before dwelling on the topic of how to annotate a book, let’s look into the benefits of annotating books. Annotating is a great way for Active reading, and it helps avoid passively staring at a Novel. It helps you engage with the book more. As you read each page, you don’t absorb as much as you would if you Annotate because Annotating opens up a conversation with the text, and you’re able to jot down your thoughts.
Annotating keeps track of key ideas and questions.
It helps formulate thoughts and questions for deeper understanding.
Annotating helps in fostering analyzing and interpreting texts.
- It encourages the reader to make inferences and draw conclusions from the texts.
“I consider as lovers of Books not those who keep their books hidden in their store chests and never handle them, but those who, by nighty 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 to a neat copy full of faults.”
How to Annotate a book?
Annotation: Writing in books, defacing copies, underlining, Having Z Books, and written notes are all different concepts that are summoned up in How to Annotate a book.
Different Ways to annotate a Book
There are so many different ways in which you can Annotate books, in which you can write notes on them or mark them up.
Typically Annotating is divided into two ways which usually cover everything up:
Annotating outside the book.
Annotating the Book itself.
Here are some of the best methods widely used and recommended for annotating books.
How to Annotate a book if you don’t like writing in them?
Separate Notebook/ Reading Journal
First up is keeping a Separate notebook or a Reading Journal.
The Reading Journal is where you can write brief notes in the form of Bullet Points, your overall thoughts on the book after finishing or after getting halfway through them. You can sit down and jot down key phrases.
In your Reading Journal, you can write notes of every book you’ve read. You can keep it short, like sticking to thoughts on Character Representations or things that didn’t make sense, it’s a list of Pros and Cons, and then after you’ve finished the book, you can also add Star Ratings to it.
You can annotate in any separate notebook, you don’t need to buy any expensive Bullet Journal, and you can decorate it however you want. You can make it fancy with Stickers and Illustrations, or you can just keep it Simple and Practical.
Here are some examples of the Eloquent things that you can write down in a Separate Notebook/ Reading Journal-
(DISCLAIMER: This is an example of how to Annotate a book. It is not a set-in-stone way you have to do it; the information here is just to give you a list of Ideas.)
You should look for things that add depth or personality to characters and catalysts and motivations that propel them through the plots.
Heavy and Political intrigue
- Not as Interesting as the Main character
Sometimes a bit more Reflective,
So, the point of having a Reading Journal is that you can always look back on all the books you’ve read that year and your opinions on them.
The Pros of keeping a Reading Journal are that it’s short and quick, making it easy to annotate.
The Cons are that it’s not as In-depth, although you could make it as one if you also want to know that your Reading Journal might not always be available to you. So, you have to wait to scribble down your thoughts until you get access to it.
Making notes on Phone apps
Sometimes, Tabbing and writing things down in your Reading Journal itself is just not enough. When there are many things that you want to write, you can use Note apps on your phone.
How to Annotate a book if you don’t like writing in them? Simply write them in your notes app. The great thing about taking notes on your phone is that you have your phone with you almost everywhere, so you can always take notes or read back your notes, which can be done in any note-taking app.
When you are reading a book, you need to write down more of your thoughts. You can just whip out your phone and add notes there.
So, there are two reasons to annotate on a Note-taking app.
First, if you have a lot of thoughts that you don’t want to write in your Reading Journal but just want to have it easily on your phone.
Second, if you specifically want to remember what is happening in the book. You can easily note it and always look back on it without re-reading the entire book.
You should prefer the Notion app; it is great you can make your reading list, TBR (to-be-read), current read, or that year’s read with separate notes for every book.
You can write down the chapter or page number and your thoughts on everything happening in the book. A kind of detailed look that helps you later if you always forget things that you read after a handful of business days.
For example, in a non-fiction book. Every time you find something interesting, you can summarize it into short phrases or write down your favorite quotes, or paraphrase what was being explained on that particular page/ chapter. You can also write down the Main idea and the Personal impact it had on you. This way, you can remember things a lot better.
When you don’t feel like putting down your notebook to pick up the separate Journal and write down the comments each time you want to record something, you can make your system of Annotations.
How to Annotate a Book itself?
While some readers consider marking/ drawing in Books as a Toxic book trait, others find this annotating method helpful.
Next up is Annotate using Sticky tabs. This method, by far, is used the most by the reading community.
Sticky tabs come in many different colors. The best thing about them the most is that they are clear on one side, i.e., half clear. So, they don’t cover up any words, and it’s really easy to see through them. They stick well and don’t damage the paper if you want to take them off, remove, or re-stick them; they are great.
Some people annotate using a fixed color code where one color just means one thing, and it’s the same for every book; others like to annotate flexibly where the meaning of color changes based on the book they are reading.
Classically the point of using Sticky Tabs is to help Future you. If you go through your Bookshelves and pick up an annotated book, you can immediately flip to a scene or quote you liked because you put a Sticky tab on it.
The easiest way to use Sticky tabs is to pick a random color of your choice and tab every scene you like.
Let’s move on to an example of the Color Code that you can use to annotate your books:
(DISCLAIMER: This is an example of How to Annotate a book. It is not a set-in-stone way you have to do it; the information here is just to give you a list of Ideas.)
Pink: Pink for Favourite quotes or lines. Underlining certain passages in Books where the writing is very lyrical and Beautiful.
Orange: Orange can be used for funny moments/ scenes.
Yellow: Yellow for main plot information, especially in fantasy books because it’s a fantasy world!! There are new rules, there are magic systems, and there are keepers with different magic powers. Everything is new and unknown.
Green: Green to analyze certain words or if there is some historical context related to that phrase. For example, in a book, there is a greek methodology you didn’t understand and what it symbolized. So, after completing, you can go back to the green tabs, search up the terms, and then note down their meanings in the margins.
Blue: Blue for sad moments, moments that made you bawl your eyes out, or moments that made you question your life.
Purple: Purple for favorite moments or a whole scene that might be your favorite or has anything to do with world-building; this includes Physical descriptions, personality traits, and character development.
You can also choose colors that match the book cover to make it look more intimidating.
Put the color tab at the beginning of the book, and then write what scene/phrase it refers to.
You can also start Annotating by tabbing every scene you liked or scene you didn’t with a particular color for each. This will help you analyze if you enjoyed that overall book. This is also a way in which Sticky tabs can be helpful in your Reading experience.
The Pros of using this method are that it is really easy, and you can do it immediately while reading the book.
The Cons are that the tabbing is only useful when you are going back through the original copy of the book, and of course, you need to own a physical copy of the book even to be able to do the Annotating.
Also, a little tip if you don’t want to carry the pack of stickers with you everywhere. Sometimes when Annotating feels tedious, you can just read the book and write down the page number that you want to put a sticky tab on, and then later, you can just go back to those page numbers and put the sticky tabs on them.
Annotating can be different for everybody. If you like putting Sticky Tabs or Annotating books another way, you can write down all your thoughts on your phone and in the margins of your book.
Writing in Margins
While trying active reading, you can try not just to read but also involve yourself and understand the book’s content better. There is a quote from the book ‘How to read a Book’ by Mortimer J. that says,
“Marking a book is an expression of your differences or your agreements with the Author. It is the highest respect you can pay him.”
Inscribing reactions, comments, reflective questions, or reminders while going through the books becomes a trigger that, later, when you read at a glance, makes it easy for you to recall the large context.
If the book’s margin is wide enough, you can jot down your thoughts and feelings there, but if the Margin is narrow, or there is a lot to write, you should prefer sticking Post-it notes. You can also use Pens for scribbling in the margins that don’t bleed through the paper or anything else that suits your taste.
Underlining/ Highlighting texts
One of the most simple yet pleasing ways to Annotate your books is by Highlighting and Underlining the key points and phrases you like.
It is recommended to use midliners for highlighting, as they don’t bleed through the paper like others. Here are some colors that you might like:
Mild Coral Pink
Mild Dark Grey
Box Key Words
Next on the list of how to annotate a book is boxing the keywords. You can circle New Vocabularies or box keywords while reading and later write down their meanings in your Reading Journal or on a Post-it note. If you want to match colors with the highlighters and tabs, you can use the same colored pen to underline and circle words.
Dog Ear Pages
Dog Ear pages or not? This has been a topic of conflict in the reading community. When you fold the corner of the page to its inside, it is referred to as Dog Ears. The method comes in handy when you don’t have a Bookmark at your side or when there are some annotations you would like to do later. Some consider it very disrespectful to fold pages. But you don’t have to worry about that. You can make your own choices.
This is the most fun and creative way on the list of how to Annotate a book. Doodling generally refers to drawing random tiny things. You can match them with the themes of the Book or that sentence. You enjoy this while making your Book look a lot more aesthetically pleasing.
Some examples of what you can doodle:
Text dividers, etc.
Drawing on the Frontpage
The next option in how to annotate a book is to draw on the front page. The front page of the Book has Nothing but the Book title. There is a lot of space to show off your Drawing skills. Search for a sketch or drawing which matches the themes or main plot of the Book and draw it. If you wish to paste Pictures instead of drawings, you can do that too.
Summarizing Chapters on Sticky Notes
Another way of Annotating is writing a Summary on a Post-it/ Sticky Notes. In general, a story of what’s been going on. You can start by writing a couple of comments summarizing the overall plot. This is very helpful, especially in Fantasy books, because there are many events. It can be every fifty pages or every hundred pages. It depends on how much is going on and is also a way of seeing how you’re feeling through the book because apart from the information, you are writing about what’s happening. You can write about the emotions that you’re feeling, and it is a great way to connect with the story.
Here are the Sticky Notes that you can use :
Brown grid lines 7.5 x 7.5 cm from Shopee.
White lines 7.5 x 7.5 cm from Shopee.
Bantex flexi Notes 40 x 50 mm.
Bantex Flexi Notes 50 x 75 mm.
Bantex flexi Notes 75 x 75 mm.
Post it Sticky Notes 76 x 126 mm.
Some other methods don’t include writing, adding notes, or pasting tabs in books. They don’t answer the question, “How to annotate a book?” But can help you enhance your understanding as a Reader/ Writer.
Writing Book Reviews
Writing Book Reviews is a hobby for some and a job for others but for many readers, it’s a very useful tool for helping you become a more perceptive reader. Whether you run a Blog and want to write up a review for Amazon or even if you just want to improve your Reading skills.
Not only does it help out the writer for you to leave a review for them. It can help you in your craft to help you realize what works and what doesn’t in a piece. You probably want to be aware of the general etiquette so that you can leave a quality review that’s respectful to the Author and useful for anyone looking to read the book themselves.
Join a Book Club
A book club is where Readers from all over the place meet up to discuss their Reading progress or Book Reviews. Many Libraries and Bookstores organize Book clubs or even an online Book community. You should join a Book club that will help you get more ideas from experienced Readers, and you can also share your Annotations.
“Writing that gets re-written as the Earth moves. If you look at the sky that way, its this massive shifting poem, or maybe a letter, first written by one Author, and then when the Earth moves, annotated by another. So, I stare and stare until, one day, I can read it.”
-Maria Dahvana Headley
I hope after reading this, your doubts about How to Annotate a Book must be cleared.
Sometimes, Annotations can be deep and concise, while other times, it is for fun. Annotating a book shouldn’t feel like a chore, or you should not pressure yourself into sounding smart and insightful.
With every Annotation, you leave a bit of yourself in that book. It becomes a Time machine because every time you re-read some old Annotated copies of your own, they say a lot about the person you were when you read that book.
It helps you build a deeper connection with the characters, bringing you closer to the book.
Whenever you go through your previous Annotations, you can see your very own character development. It shows what you were feeling and thinking back during the reading experience.
When you Annotate a book, you should have fun with it. It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks; make it your own!
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