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Research Guides

Reading and Annotating Explained in Detail

1. Survey: FIRST time through (Quick Look)

  • Familiar with the source? Fact check with lateral reading.
  • Title?--What does it seem to be ABOUT?
  • Subheadings?--What do they tell you?
  • Bold/italicized terms?
  • Abstract? (paragraph that summarizes the article)
  • Is it relevant and credible? 
    • 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 primary claim or argument? 
      • Underline the claim (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 claim or 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 annotate:

  • by hand
  • by using post-its
  • by annotating digitally (Scrible).

Suggested Strategies:

Include a key or legend that designates what each marking is for.

For Example:

  • Underline = main points
  • Box = unfamiliar vocabulary
  • Blue = supporting evidence
  • Orange = questions or confusion

Dedicate different tasks to each margin

For 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. Your annotations will make more sense and be more useful to you later.

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