How To Annotate Books? Best Full Guide [2022]

How To Annotate Books

It is a great way to keep track and organize the thoughts that you have read in the books that you own. You can refer back to your notes later. It is also a good way to practice critical and analytical thinking. How do you annotate books? Penn Book will show you how to annotate books in detail. Let’s get started.

What Does An Annotated Book Mean?

An annotation is simply adding your thoughts or insights to a text or book.

Annotating nonfiction text is something I love as a reader. Annotation allows you to return to your favorite passages, useful facts, or meaningful quotes.

It’s always fascinating to find out what parts of a story are meaningful to me when I reread a text. While I might be embarrassed by something I didn’t understand or an odd comment, I made it a snapshot of who I was.

Annotated Book

How to Annotate Books?

Annotating or not annotating: This is the age old question that avid readers are asking. Highlighting and writing in margins can be a great way of engaging with the text. It also serves as a way to keep a physical record of how you felt at a particular time.

It can be difficult to overcome the mental block that comes with writing in books. They can be costly, and it can be difficult not to overthink what is worth writing down.

What To Look For?

Grab your highlighter and pen to embark on this treasure hunt through the pages of your book.


As you read, write down any questions that arise. These questions could be surface level (like what is the author trying to say here) or deep, reflective (like what does this have to do with society today?).

These questions can be used as reminders or questions to review parts you don’t understand or discussion points for book clubs, work teams, or your journal.

Recurring Themes and Symbols

You can highlight or underline recurring symbols in a text if you aren’t sure what they mean. This will allow you to identify bigger themes and make connections as you read.

Even if you don’t know what these symbols or themes mean, you will have notes to help you remember.

Your favorite quotes or passages

You can highlight or underline quotes that you hold dear, whether inspirational or represent a turning point of the story.

You can quickly find these passages by taking notes. Not only will it help you remember the key points better, but you can also make notes and highlight them.

Unfamiliar Words

You can highlight or circle any words that you don’t know to find them later quickly. Although it may seem small, a single word can make a big difference in understanding the main idea.

Connectivity to other texts

Do you ever feel a sense of déjà vu when reading a book? It might not be a coincidence. You should pay attention to any passage that reminds you of a book, movie, or another event. This could be an intentional allusion designed to encourage readers to draw parallels and make comparisons. These can help you predict the outcome or identify a central theme in the story.

Connections to the Real World

It would help if you were alert for connections to the real world. You might notice that the author is referring to current or past political events. This can help you understand their message.

There are five ways to mark up your books if you are ready. These are my favorite methods:

  • Could you keep it simple?
  • If you are unable to write in the book, use colorful tabs!
  • Use symbols and create a key.
  • Fast annotations, just like a student
  • Talk to the text



Highlighting passages is a good place to start if you’re new to annotation or afraid of ruining pages. This allows you to recall favorite quotes and scenes without having to write them down.

It’s important to find a highlighter that doesn’t bleed through your pages.


Do you want to know how to annotate books without having to write in them? This is the way to go.

Tabs are a low pressure way to annotate your book. This is the simplest method to annotate your book, but you’ll need to keep your tabs handy wherever you go. You can use tabs to annotate in a variety of ways.

  • Color code tabs to correspond with favorite quotes, dialogue you enjoy, or scenes that make your heart hurt.
  • Sticky notes are a great way to record your reactions to the text.
  • Stick a tab to any sections that interest you there’s no need to complicate.


Similar to color coded tabs but with symbols, symbol based annotation is a quick and inexpensive way to interact with the text.

Create a book annotation key that you can use to identify favorite quotes (underline), favorite passages (asterisks), confusing passages(question mark), funny dialogues (smiley face), and other symbols. The world is your oyster.


The annotation will be taught differently in different grades and subjects. However, these are the basics to help you annotate like a student.

  • Remember to underline the main ideas and claims made by the author. What should you take away from this book? What should you remember as you turn the book over again?
  • Mark words that you don’t know, and optionally, define them in the margin.
  • Place stars next to anything that makes you stop and think positive or negative. You can include anything that causes you to stop and think. You can also make notes about what the text made you ponder or ask.


Write your thoughts, comments, and reactions as you read the story.

Other annotations are possible (circling words or underlining phrases), but this is about getting to know the book personally. You will be able to look back at your annotations and remember how the book affected you at that time in your life.

Annotating books are something that is personal and can be customized for each reader. Don’t put pressure on yourself, and have fun! How do you annotate text in different ways?

What Do You Annotate In Fiction Books

What Do You Annotate In Fiction Books?

Annotating fiction books is not that different from annotating nonfiction books. The only thing that might change is what you are looking for. However, this will depend on your annotations and the purpose of the annotations.

Are you annotating for your understanding? Perhaps your professor asks you to annotate text, identifying symbols and turning points. What are you doing?

You can ask questions and identify areas you don’t get. Or highlight passages that are particularly interesting to you. Then, add your thoughts and connections.

Fiction is a good example of how to annotate elements not found in nonfiction writing. These elements could include symbols, themes, imagery, motifs, and turning points.

Be an active reader

Annotating a book will make you more engaged and provide a more enjoyable reading experience. You’ll need to slow down, take in important details, and not miss them when working with fiction or nonfiction.


Is it bad to annotate books?

It is a great way to keep track and organize the thoughts that you have read in the books you own. You will have something to refer back to later. It can also be a good way to practice your analytical and critical thinking skills by making notes.

How do you annotate reading?

Identify the main thesis. In the margin, underline the main thesis (or the main argument or viewpoint), and then write it in your own words. Continue to read the first or second sentence of each body paragraph. Highlight the main point of each paragraph, and then summarize it in the margin using your own words.

What are 3 types of annotations?

There are three types of annotation: summary, evaluation, and descriptive.

See more:

What is an example of annotation?

Frequency: An annotation is an additional note that explains a topic in a text. An example of an annotation is the definition of an archaic term found in the Bible. It can be found at the bottom of this page. An explanation or critical note.

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