Annotating a Reading

Learning Objective:

  • Annotate a text in order to enhance overall reading comprehension.

When you make notes in the margins of any readingA piece of writing to be read. A reading can either be a full work (i.e., a book) or partial (i.e., a passage)., whether it is an electronic text in an e-reader or an actual textbook or novel, that is called annotatingMaking notes within the text of a reading.. In some ways, it is similar to taking notes during a classroom lecture. The main difference is that the writer is not there to answer questions in the same way a teacher is during a lecture.

Because of that, annotating becomes a way for you, the reader, to engage in a conversation with the writer. When you annotate, you can underline or highlight main ideasThe most important or central thought of a reading selection. It also includes what the author wants the reader to understand about the topic he or she has chosen to write about. and supporting detailsStatements within a reading that tie directly to major details that support the main idea. These can be provided in examples, statistics, anecdotes, definitions, descriptions, or comparisons within the work. , as well as ask questions of the writer, disagree with the writer, or connect your own experiences to what the writer is relating in the text. These annotations become your reference pointsAnnotations, such as notes or highlights one makes in a work, providing places to come back to when participating in classroom discussions or when writing an essay on a work. when you get involved in classroom discussions or when you write a responseA written analysis of a reading that shows understanding and fosters deep thinking about a work., summaryA brief restatement of an author’s main idea and major supporting details. Summaries are factual and should be written in the third-person with an objective point of view., or essayA short piece of writing that focuses on at least one main idea. Some essays are also focused on the author's unique point of view, making them personal or autobiographical, while others are focused on a particular literary, scientific, or political subject. about the reading.

Typically, you can use annotations to note these key issues: