Bookstr’s Picks: Our Fun and Organized Methods for Annotation

Are you a fan of annotating, or do you see it as damaging to your book? We at Bookstr understand this conflict so we offer up our own annotation processes for you to read.

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Some of us remember grumbling in annoyance as our teachers demanded we annotate, but annotating books can be a lot more fun when you’re not handling a textbook. Highlighters, sticky tabs, pens, and more can help you have a great time annotating your favorite book. Although we understand that some people despise the very concept of defacing their books, others look back at their annotations with fondness. We at Bookstr understand the controversy over annotation, so here are some of our own annotation processes to get you excited about annotation.

Highlighters, Post-Its, and Colored Pens

While I have some copies of books that are pristine, those are for aesthetic reasons; many of my personal library collections have writing and coloring throughout. As a writer and editor, I love to make note of the beauty a writer puts into their craft. As a mom of kids who are getting older and starting to read some of that collection, I think it’s fun watching them read what I thought alongside the story. It’s something for us to share and have a dialogue about, which only enhances our experience of the book itself.

I only indulge in annotating occasionally as it’s a timely process. Usually, though, it takes me a couple of passes to fully annotate, as I do it in levels. If I’ve just read the book for the first time, I’ll drop a colored Post-It strip on the page edge and then highlight specific words, phrases, or particularly well-written passages that tickle my fancy. When I re-read it, because I have a tendency to go back after a while, I then pull out my colored pens and write notes within the pages of the book. 

– Kristi Eskew, Editorial


Annotating Family History

I personally don’t annotate my books because I prefer to either voice my thoughts in conversation or write in a separate notebook. However, I own several antique books that have been in my family for generations, many of which include annotations. My personal favorite is a collection of Shakespeare’s plays that was purchased by a relative for his college course in 1916. I like to read his annotations in tandem with the play because it feels as though I’m conversing with someone I’ve never met about a work of art that will outlive us both. Sometimes there’s a sentence in the margin and other times there’s a single underlined word, but I always enjoy the puzzle of deciphering my ancestor’s insight on the text.

-Cara Hadden, Editorial 

Get out your Notebook!

Post It Notes-I usually use Post It Notes to mark a specific instance or moment in a book. If there is a lot that I want to remember, then I use a separate notebook. Sometimes, the book might have an interactive part that requires a separate notebook because the answers that I write end up being longer than the allotted space given in the actual book. 

-Christina Hardesty, Graphics


A Table of Annotated Contents

At the recommendation of many teachers and professors, I’ve always tried to put myself in the habit of making some sort of annotations while reading. For whatever reason I really dislike putting Post-its in my books, so I would use a separate notebook. Through college, I began to get more comfortable writing in my books, and now most of my annotations are in the form of pencil scrawlings in the margins. Being accustomed to writing essays and requiring solid textual evidence, I usually accompany this with a table of contents of sorts for my notes and important quotes from the novel. I found that his habit greatly improved my close reading skills, and changed the way that I interacted with literature in a positive way.

-Jenna Marcotte, Editorial

The Gift of Annotation

Although I spent a few years of college annotating for assignments, I never really got around to annotating my own personal collection. If I did annotate my own books, I would prefer to use tabs as the thought of ink on my pages was hard to bear. It was actually a birthday gift from a friend that changed my perspective on annotating. She gave me a copy of A Touch of Darkness for my birthday, and she annotated the book with a pen as she read. This enabled me to read my friend’s thoughts as I enjoyed the book myself. It is one of the best birthday gifts I have ever received as it felt like my friend was right next to me as I read. Her gift allowed me to see the benefits of inking my thoughts in the margins. Although I may not annotate all my books I highly recommend this annotation method as a gift for your bookish friends.

-Koren Frideres, Editorial, and Social

Annotating for Class

I only ever annotate books if I’m reading them for a class. For me, annotating while I’m reading takes so long that I end up working on it for twice as long as expected. If I’m reading for fun, I don’t need to look into all of the themes, figurative language, or narration techniques to still enjoy the story. However, since that’s important in class discussions, that’s what I make note of in my annotations, along with quotes to bring up as evidence. My annotations are just me underlining passages with a pen, and if there’s something specific I want to bring up with it, I’ll include a note to myself in the margins.

–Lauren Tabella, Editorial

Color-Coded Feelings

I usually like to have colorful Post-it tabs as well as transparent sticky notes whenever I pick up a book to read. I don’t do too much of it since most of the time I get too lost in the story that I forget I have it beside me, but there are still some notes you can see sticking out. Transparent notes are the best thing for me since I like to see my opinion on certain scenes some months later without worrying about marking the page. It could be from something super serious where I write down my issue of it to something that I laughed hard at and just put “LOL.” If I feel sad, I pluck a blue Post-it tab and stick it at that specific line at the edge of the page. Sometimes I’ll choose the transparent note and explain why it upset me. I don’t really have a certain process for how I annotate aside from how I feel at the moment.

– Jaiden Cruz, Graphics

Do you agree with any of our methods? Let us know how you annotate!

To read more about annotation, click here.