How To Annotate Your Books To Make The Most Out Of Them!

Last updated on May 24, 2021
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    Do you find yourself struggling to remember the content of a book after you have finished reading them? Or does it ever happen that you want to apply a book’s lessons, but you can hardly remember them? Relatable, right? This used to happen to me ALL THE TIME! So, yeah, I get you. I would keep finishing books after books and wouldn’t remember anything useful from them. In the end, it made me feel like I was wasting my time reading books. And trust me, that’s the worst feeling ever.

    Tips To Annotate Your Books! 📖 ✍️

    Tips How To Annotate Your Books To Make The Most Out Of Them

    However, one of the best reading habits I have managed to inculcate in the past few years is annotating my books. If you want to make the most out of a book, you must annotate them while reading. The Annotation will also help you when you are re-reading your books. I love re-visiting my books, and while I am reading them, my annotations simplify the whole process. So, yeah, investing a bit more time than usual while reading will save you a lot of time in the future. It’s like your present self, trying to make your future self’s life easy. I know this may sound like a lot of work right now, but it’s not. Once you start annotating your books, reading becomes even more fun and enjoyable. The fact that you are learning so much enhances your overall reading experience and enables you to read more.

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    Fiction or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter which genre you are reading, annotating will help you understand every book deeply. Especially if you want to start reviewing books or writing literary essays for your academic papers, annotating will help you make the most out of your reads. This blog will allow you to learn how to annotate both your fiction and non-fiction books in various ways.


    Underlining Phrases And Extracts

    Underlining Phrases And Extracts Tips Annotate Books

    This is one of the most basic ways of annotating your books. All you need is a pencil and a ruler (if you want the lines straight). Underlining is all about deciding what things you want to learn consciously and keep registered in your mind for the future. Especially if you are reading a fiction book, maybe a classic or a literary gem, like ‘Call Me By Your Name’ by Andre Aciman, then it’s even more important to underline.  


    Marking New Words

    Marking New Words Tips Annotate Books

    This is especially important when you are trying to build your vocabulary. Whenever you come across a new word or an uncommon word, quickly circle it, or if circling seems too outrageous for you, then underline it. When I first started annotating, I used to jot down all the words in a plain paper bookmark. But eventually, I stopped doing that as it used to break my reading flow. Now, I mark the new terms and write them in my pocket diary that I have allotted for vocabulary only. Recording the words and their meanings helps me to learn them for future use. It also serves as a record of uncommon words. Maintaining such a vocabulary journal will help you improve your command of the English language and become a better writer.


    The Asterisk Method

    Asterisk Method Tips Annotate Books

    This method was recommended to me by one of my reader friends. In this method, after you underline a vital paragraph or sentence, put an asterisk symbol beside it. You can use a single asterisk for helpful sections and multiple asterisk symbols for even more important ones. This depends on what you perceive to be necessary, so figure this out yourself as you continue to read. I also use a post-it note for this method. Stick a post-it note on the book’s last page and note down all the page numbers on it. This method is beneficial when you are re-reading a book. The post-it note will quickly guide you to the most important pages and paragraphs in the book. To make it easier, you can do this after finishing each chapter.


    Highlighting With Colours

    Highlighting With Different Colours Tips Annotate Books

    I love highlighting while I read. It makes the whole reading process more mindful, engaging, and meaningful. I like highlighting when I am reading non-fiction. Since non-fiction is all about self-improvement, I like highlighting quotes and lessons that will help me grow. It will help you so much when you are re-reading your books. Highlighting is all about being able to scan through the pages. You don’t have to read everything. Once you lay your eyes upon that page, your highlights will make it easy for you to read through the page quickly. Therefore, you must not end up highlighting every sentence. Just highlight the significant keywords and quotes. Highlight the headings, phrases, references, meaningful quotes, etc. You can also color-code your highlighters. For example, you can allot a green color highlighter for quotations, a blue one for new words, pink color for conclusions, yellow for practical exercises, etc. I don’t use multiple color highlighters as I find it a bit too chaotic for my taste. Hence, I stick to only a single color highlighter. However, Annotation is a very personal thing. It depends on what you are seeking from a book and what you find helpful. So, go ahead, create your annotation system. If you are looking for good highlighters, then I highly recommend cello highlighters. They are incredibly affordable, come with a good range of color options – I love the purple and the peach ones – and they are also very smooth. Most highlighters end up blotting the pages, but cello highlighters glide on nicely. Keep this in mind to always swatch test the highlighter on the very last page of the book as the paper quality of every book is different. Swatch testing will help you determine if the paper quality can endure the highlighter or not. I also love the Stabilo Boss Pastel highlighters. They are extraordinarily aesthetic, and the color range is perfect. However, they are pretty expensive and are water-based. So, they may end up blotting the pages if the paper quality is too thin. The bottom line is – always swatch test before! You can get the highlighter pens here! ✍️


    Using Sticky Tabs

    Use Sticky Tabs Tips Annotate Books

    Using sticky tabs is my ultimate favorite annotation technique. You can get these sticky tabs and flags from Amazon. They are pretty affordable and will make your reading process so easy and meaningful. Some lessons are way too important, and if you want to keep going back to them time and again, then sticky tabs will help you get there quickly without mindlessly rifling through the book. After highlighting super important paragraphs and quotes, I put a sticky tab right above that part to easily access it when I want to re-read. As I already mentioned in the previous point about highlighting that I don’t prefer color coding my highlighters. Instead, I color code the sticky tabs. This removes any scope for ambiguity and makes the annotations very neat and clean. Every color stands for a particular element; for example, the green flag stands for happy quotes, red stands for bitter truths or truth bombs, blue stands for wise quotations, etc. You can change this system for your books. I keep changing my method too. Make sure to remember the allotment of the colors, and you will be good to go. You can get the sticky tabs and flags here!


    Sticky Paper Prompts

    Use Sticky Paper Prompts Tips Annotate Books

    Sticky paper prompts are similar to sticky tabs, but Sticky prompts are paper-based and have more surface area to jot down your comments about a passage, etc. Sticky prompts are handy while reading a fiction book, for example, a classic. When reading such books, it’s crucial to keep noting down your comments and views regarding a specific extract. This helps you in observing the characters and the literary elements in a better way. Also, if you are reviewing a book or writing an academic essay, then using paper prompts will help you a lot in giving structure to your review or essay because you will curate all your observations by jotting down your comments in those prompts. While reading fiction books, you will come across fine imagery, irony, metaphor, alliteration, personification, etc. Jotting them down in a sticky prompt will help you learn them and draw examples in the future. Also, when trying to understand an author’s writing style, it’s vital to observe minute details. For example: when reading a John Green book, you’ll find out that he has a pattern of making his characters smart and uniquely intelligent. You’ll get to learn several cool facts in his books that you can jot down in paper prompts. Therefore, keeping a tab on all these details and reading a book effectively is crucial to annotate. You can get the sticky paper prompts here!


    Chapter-wise Reduction With Post-it Notes

    Chapter Wise Reduction With Post It Notes Tips Annotate Books

    This is a great technique to keep a tab on what you learned from a book. This is great for both fiction and non-fiction. After finishing each chapter, you can put a sticky note and write down the content of that particular chapter. You don’t have to write anything in detail. Just write down the major themes and topics covered in that specific chapter. This will help you a lot when you try to find a particular topic later in the future. You can get the Post-it notes here! 📝


    "If you want to make the most out of a book, you must annotate them while reading." Do you agree?

    Reading is a beautiful habit that, once you can imbibe, will change your life. Every book is life-altering. You get to learn so much, and with every book, you grow and become a better version of yourself. To fuel this growth, it’s imperative to read a book effectively and make the most out of them. Annotating your books will enable you to do that. Talk to us in the comments and let us know which annotation method you loved the most. If you have any questions regarding annotations, you can put up a post in our BookWritten group on Facebook. Our community of bibliophiles would love to help you out with bookish queries. If you use any of these techniques, you can use #BookWritten in your Instagram post captions. We would love to be a part of your reading journey and marvel at your progress.


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    Last updated on May 24, 2021
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