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How to Annotate Your Books to the Fullest: A Comprehensive Guide


How to Annotate Your Books to the Fullest: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Annotate Your Books to the Fullest: A Comprehensive Guide

Raise your hand if you write inside your books, keep special sticky notes handy, or dog-ear your pages, naysayers-be-damned! And, you know, hopefully the books you own and not public books you’ve borrowed. We admit we’re not personally huge writers, but we have a very specific system for bookmarking quotes we love, and there’s nothing wrong with taking pen/ pencil/ highlighters/ ink and quill to paper. Because, just like there are different types of readers, there are different types of note-takers! However you do it, we bet you’ll feel so much more connected to the story.

If you don’t, then you might be wondering why someone would bookmark quotes or scribble in the margins. Simply put, we’re trying to remember key points, beautiful moments, themes, phrases, and ideas so that we can return to it later and get lost in it all over again. If you’re ready to start getting lost even deeper in all our YA feels, check out some of our key tips to annotate below!


How to Annotate Your Books



An annotator’s go-to tools

A good annotater never starts a job until they have their tools ready! Here’s what you need:

  • A highlighter: Choose your favorite color! Some prefer udnerlining, but honestly, that doesn’t draw attention like neon does—and TBH, it’s not as pretty. You can use your highlighter to emphasize a single sentence, or an entire passage! Just… don’t go overboard. That won’t help as much as you think it will.
  • A pencil: You’ll also need a pencil while annotating so that you can write marginalia, which could both mean margin notes or inspire an excellent band name. Marginalia, which we get into a little later, helps you point out key information in a little more detail.
  • Sticky notes: Whether you use tiny little tabs, flags, or full-sized tags, sticky notes are the perfect tool to mark your place. This could be as simple as using them generally to mark your place in the book, or as complex as color-coding the tabs for different types of feelings!


Get to know the characters

You know what they say: Understanding the characters in a book is one of the most important parts of understanding the story. Is that not a saying? Well, to us book nerds it is!

When you’re reading something for the first time, one of the most important things you need to do is track the characters in the story—especially the ones who stand out to you. The former is so that you can understand what’s going on, but the latter is for pure reading entertainment.

If you really connect to someone early, be sure to have those tools handy. We can guarantee there will be many ‘a quote for you to mark down and return to later once you’re missing them. And if the cast is too sprawling for your liking, it’s helpful to right down a key few! You can use the inside of the front cover as a cheat sheet, and be sure to keep the summaries short and sweet to save space. Like the perfect Instagram caption!


Use it before you lose it

If you’re the type of person who tends to forget things once you’ve closed the book, annotations can be super helpful. For example, the little bit of white space just above the chapter heading is the perfect place to write a quick summary! Right after you’ve finished reading the chapter, flip back to the beginning and write a few short notes about what happened.


Get your marginalia on

Margins filled with notes are just as annoying as really long text messages, so it’s important that you’re smart about what you include in your ~marginalia~. Clear and concise margin notes will be a lot more useful to you than lengthy annotations, so all you need to do is follow these few simple tips and you’ll find yourself an annotation superstar:

  • Less is more: If you fill up every inch of space in your book, you’re going to be overwhelmed and have a tough time figuring out where the truly important notes are. To make things easier, only annotate the most important parts and quotes.
  • Chat with the book: Write your notes like you’re having a conversation with the story! Write down short questions and comments and avoid long sentences.


Annotate your heart out

The next time you pick up a book that you need—or want—to know like the back of your hand, or a book you just want a deeper connection with, keep this annotation guide handy. With a little bit of practice and a nice routine, the process will get easier and you’ll be a stronger reader overall. You’ll always be on the lookout for details! Think of annotation as a superpower to learn.


Do you annotate your books? What are some of your favorite tips and tricks? Tell us in the comments!

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