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Oak Park and River Forest High School Library: Reading and Annotating

Annotation Basics

Annotate The About!

  • What is each paragraph about?
    • Broken underline of main points + a note 
    • Box unfamiliar words

Made with the help of Ms. Sarah Rosas

Reading and Annotating Explained in Detail

1. Survey: FIRST time through (Quick Look)

  • Title?--What does it seem to be ABOUT?
  • Subheadings?--What do they tell you?
  • Bold/italicized terms?
  • Abstract? (paragraph that summarizes the article)
  • Does the article seem useful and trustworthy? (CRAAP test!)
    • If yes, print/save/add to Scrible/NoodleTools list
2. Skim: SECOND time through 
  • Read the first few sentences of the first few paragraphs.
    • What is the main thesis/argument? (What is the article about?)
      • Underline the thesis (should be one or two sentences)
      • Summarize it in your own words in the margin.
  • Continue reading the first sentence or two of the body paragraphs.
    • Broken underline/highlight the main point of each paragraph
    • Summarize it in your own words in the margin.  (What is it about?)
3. Read: THIRD time through 
  • Read through the entire article and look for more details.
  • Broken underline/highlight supporting evidence (anything supporting the main thesis/argument).
    • Write a note about it in the margins.
  • Write any questions you have in the margins. 
    • Look up the answer/talk to your teacher, and write the answer/explanation in the margins
  • Box any unfamiliar words. 
    • Look them up, and write their meanings in the margins.

**REMEMBER "Annotate the about!"  What is this article about?  What is this paragraph about?


Adapted from Eastern Washington University's Writing Center and with the help of Ms. Sarah Rosas

Annotating Strategies

You can choose to annotate

  • by hand, writing directly on a printed article
  • by using post-its if you have a text you do not want to mark up‚Äč
  • by using Scrible, Gale databases, or other digital annotation tools.


As you annotate, use these strategies to make the most of your efforts:

  • Include a key or legend that indicates what each marking or highlight color is for, and use a different marking or color for different types of information.
    • Example:
      • Broken Underline = main points
      • Box = unfamiliar vocabulary
      • Blue highlight = supporting evidence
      • Orange highlight = questions or confusion
  • Dedicate different tasks to each margin
    • Example:
      • Right margin = The About (summaries of the main points),
      • Left margin = Thoughts, questions, reactions to the text.


One last tip!

  • Include both The About and your own reactions to the text. Your annotations will make more sense and be more useful to you later when you come back to them.

Adapted from Eastern Washington University's Writing Center and with the help of Ms. Sarah Rosas