How Do You Annotate Your Books?

03/19/2013 3:59PM | Posted by: TeamEpicReads | Book Nerds Unite

So you are reading a book and all of a sudden you read a quote or passage that just speaks to you. How do you call it out? Today, we are opening the debate on how book nerds go about annotating their books.

How do you annotate your books? via @EpicReads

If you’re lucky enough to own an e-reader, you already have simple solutions built in to your device or reading apps so we aren’t going to discuss those here. (Let’s put that as a point in the e-reader column in the epic debate between e-readers and real books.)

For those of you who prefer to read real books, you have a couple of annotation options. We discussed this topic in a recent Tea Time (fast-forward to 18:40) and came to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong way to annotate your books and everyone seems to have their own preference.

We took some photos of ways our community likes to take notes, but we’d like to hear what you think! Join us in the comments and tell us how you annotate your books or link us to a photo example!


Option 1: The Post-It

This seems to be quite a popular option as normal sized or large Post-Its have room to write messages down and the sticky backing is preferable to regular pieces of paper because, well, you can stick them to things! Plus, Post-Its come in a variety of colors, so you could totes match your Post-It to your book.



Option 2: Sticky Flags

This is similar to option 1, but instead of the regular or larger Post-It, we used these little sticky “flags”. There’s not much room to write anything on them, but they are small enough to keep in your bag so you can use them on the go. Plus, like the regular Post-Its, they come in a variety of colors so you can color coordinate your notes. For example: yellow flags signify quotes you like, green could signify passages you want to remember for your reviews and red could signify kissy scenes. . . or you know, whatever!



Option 3: The Old Fashioned Way

This is a classic we like to use in ARCs, paperbacks and sometimes in hardcovers (although it’s hard to mark up hardcovers, we like ours in pristine condition!).

There are a variety of options within this style of note taking. Let’s start with the style:
1.) Underlining
2.) Arrows, stars, parenthesi, ect.

Now, what utensil do you use?
1.) Pencil
2.) Pen
3.) Highlighter

If you take notes this way, how do you ultimately remember what pages you highlighted? A member of our team likes to list out the pages on the book’s title page as a way of indexing everything:



Option 4: Keep a notebook

The other option we saw a lot of our members mention during Tea Time was keeping a notebook, (or a super cute tiny one like this!) nearby and jotting notes down in that. This is a perfect option for those that don’t want to mark up their books but also want more room for note taking than a Post-It offers.



Option 5: Take photos!

One member mentioned that she likes to take pictures of her favorite passages with her phone and upload them to Pinterest or Instagram as a way of digitally cataloging her favorite sections.


Does anyone else think a thin bookmark that doubled as a tiny notebook and sticky flag holder would be ideal for annotation? (This was an idea also spawned during Tea Time.)

So which option do you prefer? Are there any ways of taking notes that we missed?

User Comments 22 comments

  1. March 19, 2013 | 4:27 pm

    I have this notebook, I write everything down in there. Quotes, names of books I hated/ loved etc.
    Sometimes use a marker to highlight sentences in my books, but I prefer writing them down :D
    Another thing I do, with my favourite quotes, I write them on a post it and put it on my walls, they’re covered in post it’s

  2. March 19, 2013 | 4:36 pm

    I use sticky flags while I’m reading a book, after I’m done, I make a file on the computer with characters following quotes showing why I like/dislike them or just quotes I enjoyed in general. After I’m done with all of this, I simply take the sticky flags out!

  3. March 19, 2013 | 5:03 pm

    I usually don’t mark anything with sticky flags in books… but if I do want to mark anything, I use those! They’re small enough, that you can mark right where the quote is with them!
    There’s so many in my ARC copy of “Unravel Me” haha.

  4. March 19, 2013 | 5:07 pm

    I can’t bring myself to write in books…even in university, I couldn’t do it! I have a notebook of favourite quotes, although sometimes I get too into the story to stop and copy down a quote, so I should probably adopt the sticky flag method.

  5. March 19, 2013 | 5:49 pm

    I flag everything

  6. March 19, 2013 | 7:19 pm

    I have mini Post-Its and I just put it on the page. I don’t stick it out so you don’t see it. It’s really weird.

  7. March 19, 2013 | 8:15 pm

    I use note cards as bookmarks! I keep all of my book information/notes/quotes on them. For example:

    After I finish the book, I write down all the quotes in my “Book Quotes” computer file (which is currently sitting at 20,000+ words). Then the notecard goes with all its friends into a specific drawer. I keep the notecards in separate sections, for to-review books review-complete books.

    I have tried several of the methods listed above (well, except for actually writing IN the book. Just the thought of that stresses me out), but they just don’t work for me. Some of my books have super fragile pages, which the Post Its can rip when I take them out. I was too lazy to stop reading and write down a whole quote in a notebook. But love my system! It’s inexpensive, doesn’t take up a lot of room, and I use the brightly colored notecards so it’s pretty. :)

  8. March 19, 2013 | 8:17 pm

    Whoops! Apparently these comments down’t allow HTML coding. Here is the link if you want to see one of my notecards. :)

  9. March 19, 2013 | 8:20 pm

    I love using sticky flags and putting them right near the quote or fave part that I want to be able to go back to for reviews – once I review my book, I take all of them out, lol! Don’t like the look, my books have to be clean :)
    OH! And some advice, don’t use the dollar store sticky notes, etc. they leave a residue that is not easy to remove :(

  10. March 19, 2013 | 8:31 pm

    I dont mark up my books but ive been thinking of doing it and i like the notebook idea

  11. March 19, 2013 | 9:37 pm

    I use a pencil to make the beginning and end of a quote and use the post it flags to mark that page. If I have to actually write about it, I have a separate notebook.

  12. March 19, 2013 | 9:48 pm

    With the books I bought or own, I always use a pen to underline stuff. Usually a gel pen that matches the cover color.

  13. March 19, 2013 | 10:12 pm

    Thank you so much for this post!! I generally don’t deface books in any way (except for cookbooks) and I even hate folded pages and split spines and all that BUT. There are some things (mostly kissy things, of course, with some good quotes thrown in) you want to be able to find and remember! I feel like I want to highlight, but that’s so permanent and unpretty.

    Right now I’m rereading Clockwork Prince and I used some tabs but I ran out, so now I’m using small generic post its (the name brand ones are expensive) and writing separately in a notebook, where in I have a page for quotes, a page for theorizing, and a page of words and their definitions because Cassie Clare is the only writer who writes words I have to look up :D

  14. March 19, 2013 | 11:14 pm

    It all depends what I have on hand! Usually I have a highlighter or pen in my bag or near my bed, so that’s what I use the most, but if I have the mini flag post its, I’ll use those! They’re so handy and I have a few books that have TONS of them!

  15. March 19, 2013 | 11:46 pm

    Sticky notes and sticky tabs ONLY! Everything else is sacrilege!

  16. March 20, 2013 | 1:25 am

    I usually have a notebook or use my Ipod to write down the quotes I like. But If I’m really lazy, I always take photos.

  17. March 24, 2013 | 12:58 am

    I use sticky flags and then save it somewhere safe after finishing the book.

  18. March 25, 2013 | 3:30 pm

    Ideally, I would definitely love to be using a notebook to jot down all my notes for reviews (and I will starting April 1).

    But more often than not, I just take photos of the quotes I love so I remember them. I do have the stick flags system at times, but I always forget to do that!

    I’m guilty of underlining passages in my books that I really love. After all, it’s MY book and I can do whatever I want with it, honestly. It’s fun to open it to read again and discover that I loved this or that line a whole lot.

  19. March 25, 2013 | 3:44 pm

    I read 98% of my books digitally, so I highlight them in the text as I go. I can add a comment to why I love the quote and it stores in the book, not the device. I can go back and look at all my highlights on the computer and save them in a word doc for future reference.

  20. April 19, 2013 | 7:51 am

    honestly i don’t do any of that… i just say them outloud when i read them.. it sounds weird but try it!

  21. June 30, 2014 | 6:15 pm

    When it’s my book I use whatever I have around me to stick in the book. So that ends up being gum wrappers and other paper items like that. I stick them to hold the page that has the quote and then go back to find them later. I’ll write them down somewhere later. When it’s not my book I’ll write them on something near me and hope I remember them. It worked with a Beautiful Redemption quote.

  22. September 10, 2014 | 7:10 pm

    Majority of the books I read are electronic on my E-Reader, but these ideas are awesome! I actually just began to get physical books to own so these ideas will help me a ton. I just got some page markers and flags, new pens and I have a book journal but I may just buy another one specifically for notes and quotes.

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