annotation of english language

How to Annotate Texts

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Annotation Fundamentals

How to start annotating , how to annotate digital texts, how to annotate a textbook, how to annotate a scholarly article or book, how to annotate literature, how to annotate images, videos, and performances, additional resources for teachers.

Writing in your books can make you smarter. Or, at least (according to education experts), annotation–an umbrella term for underlining, highlighting, circling, and, most importantly, leaving comments in the margins–helps students to remember and comprehend what they read. Annotation is like a conversation between reader and text. Proper annotation allows students to record their own opinions and reactions, which can serve as the inspiration for research questions and theses. So, whether you're reading a novel, poem, news article, or science textbook, taking notes along the way can give you an advantage in preparing for tests or writing essays. This guide contains resources that explain the benefits of annotating texts, provide annotation tools, and suggest approaches for diverse kinds of texts; the last section includes lesson plans and exercises for teachers.

Why annotate? As the resources below explain, annotation allows students to emphasize connections to material covered elsewhere in the text (or in other texts), material covered previously in the course, or material covered in lectures and discussion. In other words, proper annotation is an organizing tool and a time saver. The links in this section will introduce you to the theory, practice, and purpose of annotation. 

How to Mark a Book, by Mortimer Adler

This famous, charming essay lays out the case for marking up books, and provides practical suggestions at the end including underlining, highlighting, circling key words, using vertical lines to mark shifts in tone/subject, numbering points in an argument, and keeping track of questions that occur to you as you read. 

How Annotation Reshapes Student Thinking (TeacherHUB)

In this article, a high school teacher discusses the importance of annotation and how annotation encourages more effective critical thinking.

The Future of Annotation (Journal of Business and Technical Communication)

This scholarly article summarizes research on the benefits of annotation in the classroom and in business. It also discusses how technology and digital texts might affect the future of annotation. 

Annotating to Deepen Understanding (Texas Education Agency)

This website provides another introduction to annotation (designed for 11th graders). It includes a helpful section that teaches students how to annotate reading comprehension passages on tests.

Once you understand what annotation is, you're ready to begin. But what tools do you need? How do you prepare? The resources linked in this section list strategies and techniques you can use to start annotating. 

What is Annotating? (Charleston County School District)

This resource gives an overview of annotation styles, including useful shorthands and symbols. This is a good place for a student who has never annotated before to begin.

How to Annotate Text While Reading (YouTube)

This video tutorial (appropriate for grades 6–10) explains the basic ins and outs of annotation and gives examples of the type of information students should be looking for.

Annotation Practices: Reading a Play-text vs. Watching Film (U Calgary)

This blog post, written by a student, talks about how the goals and approaches of annotation might change depending on the type of text or performance being observed. 

Annotating Texts with Sticky Notes (Lyndhurst Schools)

Sometimes students are asked to annotate books they don't own or can't write in for other reasons. This resource provides some strategies for using sticky notes instead.

Teaching Students to Close Read...When You Can't Mark the Text (Performing in Education)

Here, a sixth grade teacher demonstrates the strategies she uses for getting her students to annotate with sticky notes. This resource includes a link to the teacher's free Annotation Bookmark (via Teachers Pay Teachers).

Digital texts can present a special challenge when it comes to annotation; emerging research suggests that many students struggle to critically read and retain information from digital texts. However, proper annotation can solve the problem. This section contains links to the most highly-utilized platforms for electronic annotation.

Evernote is one of the two big players in the "digital annotation apps" game. In addition to allowing users to annotate digital documents, the service (for a fee) allows users to group multiple formats (PDF, webpages, scanned hand-written notes) into separate notebooks, create voice recordings, and sync across all sorts of devices. 

OneNote is Evernote's main competitor. Reviews suggest that OneNote allows for more freedom for digital note-taking than Evernote, but that it is slightly more awkward to import and annotate a PDF, especially on certain platforms. However, OneNote's free version is slightly more feature-filled, and OneNote allows you to link your notes to time stamps on an audio recording.

Diigo is a basic browser extension that allows a user to annotate webpages. Diigo also offers a Screenshot app that allows for direct saving to Google Drive.

While the creators of Hypothesis like to focus on their app's social dimension, students are more likely to be interested in the private highlighting and annotating functions of this program.

Foxit PDF Reader

Foxit is one of the leading PDF readers. Though the full suite must be purchased, Foxit offers a number of annotation and highlighting tools for free.

Nitro PDF Reader

This is another well-reviewed, free PDF reader that includes annotation and highlighting. Annotation, text editing, and other tools are included in the free version.

Goodreader is a very popular Mac-only app that includes annotation and editing tools for PDFs, Word documents, Powerpoint, and other formats.

Although textbooks have vocabulary lists, summaries, and other features to emphasize important material, annotation can allow students to process information and discover their own connections. This section links to guides and video tutorials that introduce you to textbook annotation. 

Annotating Textbooks (Niagara University)

This PDF provides a basic introduction as well as strategies including focusing on main ideas, working by section or chapter, annotating in your own words, and turning section headings into questions.

A Simple Guide to Text Annotation (Catawba College)

The simple, practical strategies laid out in this step-by-step guide will help students learn how to break down chapters in their textbooks using main ideas, definitions, lists, summaries, and potential test questions.

Annotating (Mercer Community College)

This packet, an excerpt from a literature textbook, provides a short exercise and some examples of how to do textbook annotation, including using shorthand and symbols.

Reading Your Healthcare Textbook: Annotation (Saddleback College)

This powerpoint contains a number of helpful suggestions, especially for students who are new to annotation. It emphasizes limited highlighting, lots of student writing, and using key words to find the most important information in a textbook. Despite the title, it is useful to a student in any discipline.

Annotating a Textbook (Excelsior College OWL)

This video (with included transcript) discusses how to use textbook features like boxes and sidebars to help guide annotation. It's an extremely helpful, detailed discussion of how textbooks are organized.

Because scholarly articles and books have complex arguments and often depend on technical vocabulary, they present particular challenges for an annotating student. The resources in this section help students get to the heart of scholarly texts in order to annotate and, by extension, understand the reading.

Annotating a Text (Hunter College)

This resource is designed for college students and shows how to annotate a scholarly article using highlighting, paraphrase, a descriptive outline, and a two-margin approach. It ends with a sample passage marked up using the strategies provided. 

Guide to Annotating the Scholarly Article (

This is an effective introduction to annotating scholarly articles across all disciplines. This resource encourages students to break down how the article uses primary and secondary sources and to annotate the types of arguments and persuasive strategies (synthesis, analysis, compare/contrast).

How to Highlight and Annotate Your Research Articles (CHHS Media Center)

This video, developed by a high school media specialist, provides an effective beginner-level introduction to annotating research articles. 

How to Read a Scholarly Book (

In this essay, a college professor lets readers in on the secrets of scholarly monographs. Though he does not discuss annotation, he explains how to find a scholarly book's thesis, methodology, and often even a brief literature review in the introduction. This is a key place for students to focus when creating annotations. 

A 5-step Approach to Reading Scholarly Literature and Taking Notes (Heather Young Leslie)

This resource, written by a professor of anthropology, is an even more comprehensive and detailed guide to reading scholarly literature. Combining the annotation techniques above with the reading strategy here allows students to process scholarly book efficiently. 

Annotation is also an important part of close reading works of literature. Annotating helps students recognize symbolism, double meanings, and other literary devices. These resources provide additional guidelines on annotating literature.

AP English Language Annotation Guide (YouTube)

In this ~10 minute video, an AP Language teacher provides tips and suggestions for using annotations to point out rhetorical strategies and other important information.

Annotating Text Lesson (YouTube)

In this video tutorial, an English teacher shows how she uses the white board to guide students through annotation and close reading. This resource uses an in-depth example to model annotation step-by-step.

Close Reading a Text and Avoiding Pitfalls (Purdue OWL)

This resources demonstrates how annotation is a central part of a solid close reading strategy; it also lists common mistakes to avoid in the annotation process.

AP Literature Assignment: Annotating Literature (Mount Notre Dame H.S.)

This brief assignment sheet contains suggestions for what to annotate in a novel, including building connections between parts of the book, among multiple books you are reading/have read, and between the book and your own experience. It also includes samples of quality annotations.

AP Handout: Annotation Guide (Covington Catholic H.S.)

This annotation guide shows how to keep track of symbolism, figurative language, and other devices in a novel using a highlighter, a pencil, and every part of a book (including the front and back covers).

In addition to written resources, it's possible to annotate visual "texts" like theatrical performances, movies, sculptures, and paintings. Taking notes on visual texts allows students to recall details after viewing a resource which, unlike a book, can't be re-read or re-visited ( for example, a play that has finished its run, or an art exhibition that is far away). These resources draw attention to the special questions and techniques that students should use when dealing with visual texts.

How to Take Notes on Videos (U of Southern California)

This resource is a good place to start for a student who has never had to take notes on film before. It briefly outlines three general approaches to note-taking on a film. 

How to Analyze a Movie, Step-by-Step (San Diego Film Festival)

This detailed guide provides lots of tips for film criticism and analysis. It contains a list of specific questions to ask with respect to plot, character development, direction, musical score, cinematography, special effects, and more. 

How to "Read" a Film (UPenn)

This resource provides an academic perspective on the art of annotating and analyzing a film. Like other resources, it provides students a checklist of things to watch out for as they watch the film.

Art Annotation Guide (Gosford Hill School)

This resource focuses on how to annotate a piece of art with respect to its formal elements like line, tone, mood, and composition. It contains a number of helpful questions and relevant examples. 

Photography Annotation (Arts at Trinity)

This resource is designed specifically for photography students. Like some of the other resources on this list, it primarily focuses on formal elements, but also shows students how to integrate the specific technical vocabulary of modern photography. This resource also contains a number of helpful sample annotations.

How to Review a Play (U of Wisconsin)

This resource from the University of Wisconsin Writing Center is designed to help students write a review of a play. It contains suggested questions for students to keep in mind as they watch a given production. This resource helps students think about staging, props, script alterations, and many other key elements of a performance.

This section contains links to lessons plans and exercises suitable for high school and college instructors.

Beyond the Yellow Highlighter: Teaching Annotation Skills to Improve Reading Comprehension (English Journal)

In this journal article, a high school teacher talks about her approach to teaching annotation. This article makes a clear distinction between annotation and mere highlighting.

Lesson Plan for Teaching Annotation, Grades 9–12 (

This lesson plan, published by the National Council of Teachers of English, contains four complete lessons that help introduce high school students to annotation.

Teaching Theme Using Close Reading (Performing in Education)

This lesson plan was developed by a middle school teacher, and is aligned to Common Core. The teacher presents her strategies and resources in comprehensive fashion.

Analyzing a Speech Using Annotation (UNC-TV/PBS Learning Media)

This complete lesson plan, which includes a guide for the teacher and relevant handouts for students, will prepare students to analyze both the written and presentation components of a speech. This lesson plan is best for students in 6th–10th grade.

Writing to Learn History: Annotation and Mini-Writes (

This teaching guide, developed for high school History classes, provides handouts and suggested exercises that can help students become more comfortable with annotating historical sources.

Writing About Art (The College Board)

This Prezi presentation is useful to any teacher introducing students to the basics of annotating art. The presentation covers annotating for both formal elements and historical/cultural significance.

Film Study Worksheets (

This resource contains links to a general film study worksheet, as well as specific worksheets for novel adaptations, historical films, documentaries, and more. These resources are appropriate for advanced middle school students and some high school students. 

Annotation Practice Worksheet (La Guardia Community College)

This worksheet has a sample text and instructions for students to annotate it. It is a useful resource for teachers who want to give their students a chance to practice, but don't have the time to select an appropriate piece of text. 

  • PDFs for all 136 Lit Terms we cover
  • Downloads of 1766 LitCharts Lit Guides
  • Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
  • Explanations and citation info for 36,965 quotes across 1766 books
  • Downloadable (PDF) line-by-line translations of every Shakespeare play

Need something? Request a new guide .

How can we improve? Share feedback .

LitCharts is hiring!

The logo.

Syntactically Annotating Learner Language of English

Welcome to the website of the project for Syntactically Annotating Learner Language of English, or SALLE! This is a dissertation project being done in the Linguistics Department at Indiana University, Bloomington

This project concerns syntactically annotating texts written by learners of English as a second language. Our goal is to annotate linguistic properties present in a given sentence, without making too much interpretation about what the learner meant to say, or what the correct form should have been. To acheive this end, our annotation scheme adds several pieces of linguistic information about each word, based on its context in the sentence, and based on the rules of English (the target language). We annotate dependency relations to mark syntactic relations between words in a sentence - e.g., one word is the subject of another word.

This site is under development , so please be patient.


  • Markus Dickinson
  • Marwa Ragheb

A beta version of the guidelines we are using are available here . It should be noted that these guidelines are still in progress, and we welcome feedback. We are releasing this version of the guidelines, before any data is released, because we feel that they will be useful to other researchers. The decisions we have made (certainly needing refinement in some cases) point out many of the essential questions that need to be addressed for linguistically annotating learner data, and we hope they can stimulate discussion.

BiBTeX information for the guidelines:

The data is not available yet, as our project is small and as there is a dissertation in progress. We obviously want to release our data as soon as we can, but we ask for patience.

The best paper to cite for the overall project is probably either our COLING 2012 paper or one of our TLT 2014 papers :

Markus Dickinson and Marwa Ragheb (2015). On Grammaticality in the Syntactic Annotation of Learner Language. Proceedings of The 9th Linguistic Annotation Workshop. Denver, CO. pp. 158-167.

Marwa Ragheb and Markus Dickinson (2014). Developing a Corpus of Syntactically-Annotated Learner Language for English. Proceedings of the 13th International Workshop on Treebanks and Linguistic Theories (TLT13) . Tübingen, Germany. pp. 292-300.

Marwa Ragheb and Markus Dickinson (2014). The Effect of Annotation Scheme Decisions on Parsing Learner Data. Proceedings of the 13th International Workshop on Treebanks and Linguistic Theories (TLT13) . Tübingen, Germany. pp. 137-148.

Marwa Ragheb and Markus Dickinson (2013). Inter-annotator Agreement for Dependency Annotation of Learner Language. Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications . Atlanta, GA.

Marwa Ragheb and Markus Dickinson (2012). Defining Syntax for Learner Language Annotation . Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Computational Linguistics (COLING 2012), Poster Session . Mumbai, India. pp. 965-974.

Marwa Ragheb and Markus Dickinson (2011). Avoiding the Comparative Fallacy in the Annotation of Learner Corpora . Selected Proceedings of the 2010 Second Language Research Forum: Reconsidering SLA Research, Dimensions, and Directions . Cascadilla Proceedings Project: Somerville, MA. pp. 114--124.

Markus Dickinson and Marwa Ragheb (2011). Dependency Annotation of Coordination for Learner Language . International Conference on Dependency Linguistics . Barcelona, Spain.

Markus Dickinson and Marwa Ragheb (2009). Dependency Annotation for Learner Corpora. Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop on Treebanks and Linguistic Theories (TLT-8) . Milan, Italy.

Learning Center

Annotating Texts

What is annotation.

Annotation can be:

  • A systematic summary of the text that you create within the document
  • A key tool for close reading that helps you uncover patterns, notice important words, and identify main points
  • An active learning strategy that improves comprehension and retention of information

Why annotate?

  • Isolate and organize important material
  • Identify key concepts
  • Monitor your learning as you read
  • Make exam prep effective and streamlined
  • Can be more efficient than creating a separate set of reading notes

How do you annotate?

Summarize key points in your own words .

  • Use headers and words in bold to guide you
  • Look for main ideas, arguments, and points of evidence
  • Notice how the text organizes itself. Chronological order? Idea trees? Etc.

Circle key concepts and phrases

  • What words would it be helpful to look-up at the end?
  • What terms show up in lecture? When are different words used for similar concepts? Why?

Write brief comments and questions in the margins

  • Be as specific or broad as you would like—use these questions to activate your thinking about the content
  • See our handout on reading comprehension tips for some examples

Use abbreviations and symbols

  • Try ? when you have a question or something you need to explore further
  • Try ! When something is interesting, a connection, or otherwise worthy of note
  • Try * For anything that you might use as an example or evidence when you use this information.
  • Ask yourself what other system of symbols would make sense to you.


  • Highlight or underline, but mindfully. Check out our resource on strategic highlighting for tips on when and how to highlight.

Use comment and highlight features built into pdfs, online/digital textbooks, or other apps and browser add-ons

  • Are you using a pdf? Explore its highlight, edit, and comment functions to support your annotations
  • Some browsers have add-ons or extensions that allow you to annotate web pages or web-based documents
  • Does your digital or online textbook come with an annotation feature?
  • Can your digital text be imported into a note-taking tool like OneNote, EverNote, or Google Keep? If so, you might be able to annotate texts in those apps

What are the most important takeaways?

  • Annotation is about increasing your engagement with a text
  • Increased engagement, where you think about and process the material then expand on your learning, is how you achieve mastery in a subject
  • As you annotate a text, ask yourself: how would I explain this to a friend?
  • Put things in your own words and draw connections to what you know and wonder

The table below demonstrates this process using a geography textbook excerpt (Press 2004):

A chart featuring a passage from a text in the left column and then columns that illustrate annotations that include too much writing, not enough writing, and a good balance of writing.

A common concern about annotating texts: It takes time!

Yes, it can, but that time isn’t lost—it’s invested.

Spending the time to annotate on the front end does two important things:

  • It saves you time later when you’re studying. Your annotated notes will help speed up exam prep, because you can review critical concepts quickly and efficiently.
  • It increases the likelihood that you will retain the information after the course is completed. This is especially important when you are supplying the building blocks of your mind and future career.

One last tip: Try separating the reading and annotating processes! Quickly read through a section of the text first, then go back and annotate.

Works consulted:

Nist, S., & Holschuh, J. (2000). Active learning: strategies for college success. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 202-218.

Simpson, M., & Nist, S. (1990). Textbook annotation: An effective and efficient study strategy for college students. Journal of Reading, 34: 122-129.

Press, F. (2004). Understanding earth (4th ed). New York: W.H. Freeman. 208-210.

Creative Commons License

Make a Gift

Help | Advanced Search

Computer Science > Computation and Language

Title: annotated english.

Abstract: This document presents Annotated English, a system of diacritical symbols which turns English pronunciation into a precise and unambiguous process. The annotations are defined and located in such a way that the original English text is not altered (not even a letter), thus allowing for a consistent reading and learning of the English language with and without annotations. The annotations are based on a set of general rules that make the frequency of annotations not dramatically high. This makes the reader easily associate annotations with exceptions, and makes it possible to shape, internalise and consolidate some rules for the English language which otherwise are weakened by the enormous amount of exceptions in English pronunciation. The advantages of this annotation system are manifold. Any existing text can be annotated without a significant increase in size. This means that we can get an annotated version of any document or book with the same number of pages and fontsize. Since no letter is affected, the text can be perfectly read by a person who does not know the annotation rules, since annotations can be simply ignored. The annotations are based on a set of rules which can be progressively learned and recognised, even in cases where the reader has no access or time to read the rules. This means that a reader can understand most of the annotations after reading a few pages of Annotated English, and can take advantage from that knowledge for any other annotated document she may read in the future.

Submission history

  • Download a PDF of the paper titled Annotated English, by Jose Hernandez-Orallo PDF
  • Other formats

annotation of english language

References & Citations

  • Google Scholar
  • Semantic Scholar

DBLP - CS Bibliography

Bibtex formatted citation.

BibSonomy logo

Bibliographic and Citation Tools

Code, data and media associated with this article, recommenders and search tools.

  • Institution

arXivLabs: experimental projects with community collaborators

arXivLabs is a framework that allows collaborators to develop and share new arXiv features directly on our website.

Both individuals and organizations that work with arXivLabs have embraced and accepted our values of openness, community, excellence, and user data privacy. arXiv is committed to these values and only works with partners that adhere to them.

Have an idea for a project that will add value for arXiv's community? Learn more about arXivLabs .

This site is under construction, and will be improved over time.

Penn Libraries


ScholarlyCommons is the University of Pennsylvania's open access institutional repository for gathering, indexing, storing, and making widely available the scholarly output of the Penn community.

Browse by School

annotation of english language

Annenberg School for Communication

annotation of english language

Graduate School of Education

annotation of english language

Penn Carey Law School

annotation of english language

Perelman School of Medicine

annotation of english language

School of Arts & Sciences

annotation of english language

School of Dental Medicine

annotation of english language

School of Engineering and Applied Science

annotation of english language

School of Nursing

annotation of english language

School of Social Policy & Practice

annotation of english language

School of Veterinary Medicine

annotation of english language

Stuart Weitzman School of Design

annotation of english language

Wharton School

annotation of english language

Interdisciplinary Centers, Units and Projects

Usage statistics.

  • Frequently downloaded items
  • Most read researchers
  • Popular subjects
  • International readership

DSpace software copyright © 2002-2023 LYRASIS

  • Cookie settings
  • Privacy policy
  • End User Agreement
  • Send Feedback
  • How to Write an Annotation

One of the greatest challenges students face is adjusting to college reading expectations.  Unlike high school, students in college are expected to read more “academic” type of materials in less time and usually recall the information as soon as the next class.

The problem is many students spend hours reading and have no idea what they just read.  Their eyes are moving across the page, but their mind is somewhere else. The end result is wasted time, energy, and frustration…and having to read the text again.

Although students are taught  how to read  at an early age, many are not taught  how to actively engage  with written text or other media. Annotation is a tool to help you learn how to actively engage with a text or other media.

View the following video about how to annotate a text.

Annotating a text or other media (e.g. a video, image, etc.) is as much about you as it is the text you are annotating. What are YOUR responses to the author’s writing, claims and ideas? What are YOU thinking as you consider the work? Ask questions, challenge, think!

When we annotate an author’s work, our minds should encounter the mind of the author, openly and freely. If you met the author at a party, what would you like to tell to them; what would you like to ask them? What do you think they would say in response to your comments? You can be critical of the text, but you do not have to be. If you are annotating properly, you often begin to get ideas that have little or even nothing to do with the topic you are annotating. That’s fine: it’s all about generating insights and ideas of your own. Any good insight is worth keeping because it may make for a good essay or research paper later on.

The Secret is in the Pen

One of the ways proficient readers read is with a pen in hand. They know their purpose is to keep their attention on the material by:

  • Predicting  what the material will be about
  • Questioning  the material to further understanding
  • Determining  what’s important
  • Identifying  key vocabulary
  • Summarizing  the material in their own words, and
  • Monitoring  their comprehension (understanding) during and after engaging with the material

The same applies for mindfully viewing a film, video, image or other media.

Annotating a Text

Review the video, “How to Annotate a Text.”  Pay attention to both how to make annotations and what types of thoughts and ideas may be part of your annotations as you actively read a written text.

Example Assignment Format: Annotating a Written Text

For the annotation of reading assignments in this class, you will cite and comment on a minimum of FIVE (5) phrases, sentences or passages from notes you take on the selected readings.

Here is an example format for an assignment to annotate a written text:

Example Assignment Format: Annotating Media

In addition to annotating written text, at times you will have assignments to annotate media (e.g., videos, images or other media). For the annotation of media assignments in this class, you will cite and comment on a minimum of THREE (3) statements, facts, examples, research or any combination of those from the notes you take about selected media.

Here is an example format for an assignment to annotate media:

  • Provided by : Lumen Learning. Located at : . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Authored by : Paul Powell . Provided by : Central Community College. Project : Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Authored by : Elisabeth Ellington and Ronda Dorsey Neugebauer . Provided by : Chadron State College. Project : Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Annotating a Text. Authored by : HaynesEnglish. Located at : . License : All Rights Reserved . License Terms : Standard YouTube license
  • How to Annotate a Text. Authored by : Kthiebau90. Located at : . License : All Rights Reserved . License Terms : Standard YouTube License
  • Table of Contents

Instructor Resources (Access Requires Login)

  • Overview of Instructor Resources

An Overview of the Writing Process

  • Introduction to the Writing Process
  • Introduction to Writing
  • Your Role as a Learner
  • What is an Essay?
  • Reading to Write
  • Defining the Writing Process
  • Videos: Prewriting Techniques
  • Thesis Statements
  • Organizing an Essay
  • Creating Paragraphs
  • Conclusions
  • Editing and Proofreading
  • Matters of Grammar, Mechanics, and Style
  • Peer Review Checklist
  • Comparative Chart of Writing Strategies

Using Sources

  • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Formatting the Works Cited Page (MLA)
  • Citing Paraphrases and Summaries (APA)
  • APA Citation Style, 6th edition: General Style Guidelines

Definition Essay

  • Definitional Argument Essay
  • How to Write a Definition Essay
  • Critical Thinking
  • Video: Thesis Explained
  • Effective Thesis Statements
  • Student Sample: Definition Essay

Narrative Essay

  • Introduction to Narrative Essay
  • Student Sample: Narrative Essay
  • "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell
  • "Sixty-nine Cents" by Gary Shteyngart
  • Video: The Danger of a Single Story
  • How to Write a Summary
  • Writing for Success: Narration

Illustration/Example Essay

  • Introduction to Illustration/Example Essay
  • "She's Your Basic L.O.L. in N.A.D" by Perri Klass
  • "April & Paris" by David Sedaris
  • Writing for Success: Illustration/Example
  • Student Sample: Illustration/Example Essay

Compare/Contrast Essay

  • Introduction to Compare/Contrast Essay
  • "Disability" by Nancy Mairs
  • "Friending, Ancient or Otherwise" by Alex Wright
  • "A South African Storm" by Allison Howard
  • Writing for Success: Compare/Contrast
  • Student Sample: Compare/Contrast Essay

Cause-and-Effect Essay

  • Introduction to Cause-and-Effect Essay
  • "Cultural Baggage" by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • "Women in Science" by K.C. Cole
  • Writing for Success: Cause and Effect
  • Student Sample: Cause-and-Effect Essay

Argument Essay

  • Introduction to Argument Essay
  • Rogerian Argument
  • "The Case Against Torture," by Alisa Soloman
  • "The Case for Torture" by Michael Levin
  • How to Write a Summary by Paraphrasing Source Material
  • Writing for Success: Argument
  • Student Sample: Argument Essay
  • Grammar/Mechanics Mini-lessons
  • Mini-lesson: Subjects and Verbs, Irregular Verbs, Subject Verb Agreement
  • Mini-lesson: Sentence Types
  • Mini-lesson: Fragments I
  • Mini-lesson: Run-ons and Comma Splices I
  • Mini-lesson: Comma Usage
  • Mini-lesson: Parallelism
  • Mini-lesson: The Apostrophe
  • Mini-lesson: Capital Letters
  • Grammar Practice - Interactive Quizzes
  • De Copia - Demonstration of the Variety of Language
  • Style Exercise: Voice

In order to continue enjoying our site, we ask that you confirm your identity as a human. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

Module 2: Reading Strategies

Learning objectives.

  • Explain strategies for annotating texts

To annotate is to actively engage a text by pausing to reflect, mark up, and add notes as you read. It can increase comprehension, help you remember what you’ve read, and save you time by not requiring you to re-read as often. The simplest ways to annotate include marking up the text by highlighting, underlining, bracketing, or placing symbols in the text or the margins, but simply highlighting is insufficient. Highlighting tells you that you thought something was important in the moment you read it, but when you go back later, you won’t know why you thought it was important. As you annotate, you’ll also want to add keywords, phrases, or questions, and make connections to the content.

While annotating, look for opportunities to:

  • Summarize important ideas in your own words.
  • Add examples from real life, other books, TV, movies, and so forth.
  • Define words that are new to you.
  • Mark passages that you find confusing with question marks.
  • Write questions that you might have for later discussion in class.
  • Comment on the actions or development of characters.
  • Summarize things that intrigue, impress, surprise, disturb, etc.
  • Note how the author uses language.
  • Draw a picture when a visual connection is appropriate.
  • Explain the historical context or traditions/social customs used in the passage.

Watch this video lesson to learn about the value of annotation and how to do it.

You can view the transcript for “Creating an Annotation System” here (opens in new window) .

Annotating a Textbook

Most textbooks are organized in similar ways, with chapters, sections, headings, visuals, and activities. Use this structure to help you break down the content in manageable chunks and to look for important concepts, facts, key terms, and theories contained within the text. Look for any sidebars and special features, and be sure to complete any practice questions or activities.

One great way to annotate a textbook is to create your own study questions based on the reading. After reviewing your notes, create study questions about important theories, facts, people, dates, and terms, then use the questions to quiz yourself.

Note-Taking strategies

There are several recommended note-taking strategies for textbook reading such as SQ3R or Cornell Notes.

SQ3R stands for:

In this method, you first survey the text by glancing over the headers and major points. Then you turn the headings or the main ideas from the summary into questions about the reading. So if a header says, “Annotating a Textbook,” you could write, “What are methods for annotating a textbook?” Next, you read to find the answer. Then you try to recite your answer out loud in your own words, without looking at your notes. Then you can continue on, but remember to review your notes when you are done with your reading. [1]

Cornell Notes

Cornell notes are often used during a lecture but can also be used while reading a text. You begin by creating two columns on your paper—draw a vertical line about 1/3 of the way across a paper. On the right-hand side, you write down notes as you listen or read. In the left-side column, you add in questions and elaborate on the things you wrote on the other side. It follows this general structure:

  • Record: write down notes from the reading or lecture on the right side of the paper
  • Question: write down questions or keywords on the left side of the paper that connect to the notes on the other side.
  • Recite: Cover the detailed notes on the right side of the paper and ask yourself the questions from the left side, or use the keywords to see how much you can recite from the reading or notes.
  • Reflect: Think deeply about the notes and try to make connections between what you already know and what you learned.
  • Review: Review your notes frequently—before class, after class, before an exam, etc. [2]

Annotating a Work of Fiction

When annotating a work of fiction, such as a novel or short story, look for key elements, such as:

  • Characters: The protagonist is the main character and the focus of the story. They may be the hero, or anti-hero, someone who is flawed but still fulfills the role of the hero. There may also be an antagonist , someone who is opposed to the main character.
  • Setting: The setting is a place and time where the story unfolds. The setting may be current, historical, or invented.
  • The Plot: Many stories follow a predictable plot formula, which involves exposition (setting the stage), a conflict that causes action leading up to a climax, then falling action and resolution.

Icons showing the plot of a story, with five common stages of: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

Figure 1 . Identifying the 5 stages of a plot will help you as you annotate works of fiction.

  • The Point of View: The point of view is the teller of the story.  

The Point of View: as stories, works of fiction have a narrator who tells the story from a particular point of view: First person (I or We), second person (you), or third person (he, she, they).

Figure 2 . Recognizing which point of view is being used is another helpful tool in annotating.

  • Themes: Themes are the major ideas expressed in a story. Every story has one or more themes that it develops, such as “human endeavor is ultimately futile” or “working-class unity leads to successful resistance to oppression.”

Annotating an Essay or Nonfiction Book

Reading (and writing!) essays is an essential part of your college experience. Essays and books are usually organized around a central idea or argument, known as a thesis statement. And even though a book is longer with more room to develop ideas, both books and essays share a similar structure that has an introduction, body, and conclusion.

When annotating an essay or nonfiction book, try these strategies:

  • Find the stated or implied thesis statement, also referred to as the author’s central argument. A thesis consists of a specific topic and a position statement on the topic. All of the other ideas in the text support and develop the thesis, so it’s really important to identify the thesis as you read. You’ll get lots of practice identifying and writing thesis statements and topic sentences throughout this course.
  • Identify topic sentences. Topic sentences are the main ideas of a paragraph.
  • Identify key supporting details. Supporting details help develop and explain the topic sentences.
  • Example (e.g. for example, for instance)
  • Time or Sequence (e.g. first, second)
  • Comparison (e.g. however, on the other hand)
  • Concession (e.g. admittedly, granted)
  • Addition (e.g. furthermore, in addition)
  • Cause and Effect (e.g. as a result, consequently)
  • Conclusion (e.g. therefore, in conclusion)
  • Summary (e.g. in summary, in other words)


Improve this page Learn More

  • Textbook Reading Systems. Cornell University . ↵
  • The Cornell Note-taking System. The Learning Strategies Center. Cornell University. ↵
  • Modification, adaptation, and original content. Provided by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Annotating. Provided by : Excelsior Online Reading Lab. Located at : . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Annotating Fiction. Provided by : Excelsior College Online Reading Lab. Located at : . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • A Readers Guide to Annotation. Provided by : Wikiversity. Located at : . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike

Footer Logo Lumen Waymaker

ABLE blog: thoughts, learnings and experiences

  • Productivity
  • Thoughtful learning

Annotating text: The complete guide to close reading

Annotating text: The complete guide to close reading

As students, researchers, and self-learners, we understand the power of reading and taking smart notes . But what happens when we combine those together? This is where annotating text comes in.

Annotated text is a written piece that includes additional notes and commentary from the reader. These notes can be about anything from the author's style and tone to the main themes of the work. By providing context and personal reactions, annotations can turn a dry text into a lively conversation.

Creating text annotations during close readings can help you follow the author's argument or thesis and make it easier to find critical points and supporting evidence. Plus, annotating your own texts in your own words helps you to better understand and remember what you read.

This guide will take a closer look at annotating text, discuss why it's useful, and how you can apply a few helpful strategies to develop your annotating system.

What does annotating text mean?

Annotating text: yellow pen and a yellow notebook

Text annotation refers to adding notes, highlights, or comments to a text. This can be done using a physical copy in textbooks or printable texts. Or you can annotate digitally through an online document or e-reader.

Generally speaking, annotating text allows readers to interact with the content on a deeper level, engaging with the material in a way that goes beyond simply reading it. There are different levels of annotation, but all annotations should aim to do one or more of the following:

  • Summarize the key points of the text
  • Identify evidence or important examples
  • Make connections to other texts or ideas
  • Think critically about the author's argument
  • Make predictions about what might happen next

When done effectively, annotation can significantly improve your understanding of a text and your ability to remember what you have read.

What are the benefits of annotation?

There are many reasons why someone might wish to annotate a document. It's commonly used as a study strategy and is often taught in English Language Arts (ELA) classes. Students are taught how to annotate texts during close readings to identify key points, evidence, and main ideas.

In addition, this reading strategy is also used by those who are researching for self-learning or professional growth. Annotating texts can help you keep track of what you’ve read and identify the parts most relevant to your needs. Even reading for pleasure can benefit from annotation, as it allows you to keep track of things you might want to remember or add to your personal knowledge management system .

Annotating has many benefits, regardless of your level of expertise. When you annotate, you're actively engaging with the text, which can help you better understand and learn new things . Additionally, annotating can save you time by allowing you to identify the most essential points of a text before starting a close reading or in-depth analysis.

There are few studies directly on annotation, but the body of research is growing. In one 2022 study, specific annotation strategies increased student comprehension , engagement, and academic achievement. Students who annotated read slower, which helped them break down texts and visualize key points. This helped students focus, think critically , and discuss complex content.

Annotation can also be helpful because it:

  • Allows you to quickly refer back to important points in the text without rereading the entire thing
  • Helps you to make connections between different texts and ideas
  • Serves as a study aid when preparing for exams or writing essays
  • Identifies gaps in your understanding so that you can go back and fill them in

The process of annotating text can make your reading experience more fruitful. Adding comments, questions, and associations directly to the text makes the reading process more active and enjoyable.

annotation of english language

Focus like never before

Gather information, take notes, review, reflect, surface insights. All from one perfect, distraction-free interface.

How do you annotate text?

2 pens and 2 notebooks

There are many different ways to annotate while reading. The traditional method of annotating uses highlighters, markers, and pens to underline, highlight, and write notes in paper books. Modern methods have now gone digital with apps and software. You can annotate on many note-taking apps, as well as online documents like Google Docs.

While there are documented benefits of handwritten notes, recent research shows that digital methods are effective as well. Among college students in an introductory college writing course, those with more highlighting on digital texts correlated with better reading comprehension than those with more highlighted sections on paper.

No matter what method you choose, the goal is always to make your reading experience more active, engaging, and productive. To do so, the process can be broken down into three simple steps:

  • Do the first read-through without annotating to get a general understanding of the material.
  • Reread the text and annotate key points, evidence, and main ideas.
  • Review your annotations to deepen your understanding of the text.

Of course, there are different levels of annotation, and you may only need to do some of the three steps. For example, if you're reading for pleasure, you might only annotate key points and passages that strike you as interesting or important. Alternatively, if you're trying to simplify complex information in a detailed text, you might annotate more extensively.

The type of annotation you choose depends on your goals and preferences. The key is to create a plan that works for you and stick with it.

Annotation strategies to try

When annotating text, you can use a variety of strategies. The best method for you will depend on the text itself, your reason for reading, and your personal preferences. Start with one of these common strategies if you don't know where to begin.

  • Questioning: As you read, note any questions that come to mind as you engage in critical thinking . These could be questions about the author's argument, the evidence they use, or the implications of their ideas.
  • Summarizing: Write a brief summary of the main points after each section or chapter. This is a great way to check your understanding, help you process information , and identify essential information to reference later.
  • Paraphrasing: In addition to (or instead of) summaries, try paraphrasing key points in your own words. This will help you better understand the material and make it easier to reference later.
  • Connecting: Look for connections between different parts of the text or other ideas as you read. These could be things like similarities, contrasts, or implications. Make a note of these connections so that you can easily reference them later.
  • Visualizing: Sometimes, it can be helpful to annotate text visually by drawing pictures or taking visual notes . This can be especially helpful when trying to make connections between different ideas.
  • Responding: Another way to annotate is to jot down your thoughts and reactions as you read. This can be a great way to personally engage with the material and identify any areas you need clarification on.

Combining the three-step annotation process with one or more strategies can create a customized, powerful reading experience tailored to your specific needs.

ABLE: Zero clutter, pure flow

Carry out your entire learning, reflecting and writing process from one single, minimal interface. Focus modes for reading and writing make concentrating on what matters at any point easy.

7 tips for effective annotations

HIGHLIGHT spelled using letter tiles

Once you've gotten the hang of the annotating process and know which strategies you'd like to use, there are a few general tips you can follow to make the annotation process even more effective.

1. Read with a purpose. Before you start annotating, take a moment to consider what you're hoping to get out of the text. Do you want to gain a general overview? Are you looking for specific information? Once you know what you're looking for, you can tailor your annotations accordingly.

2. Be concise. When annotating text, keep it brief and focus on the most important points. Otherwise, you risk annotating too much, which can feel a bit overwhelming, like having too many tabs open . Limit yourself to just a few annotations per page until you get a feel for what works for you.

3. Use abbreviations and symbols. You can use abbreviations and symbols to save time and space when annotating digitally. If annotating on paper, you can use similar abbreviations or symbols or write in the margins. For example, you might use ampersands, plus signs, or question marks.

4. Highlight or underline key points. Use highlighting or underlining to draw attention to significant passages in the text. This can be especially helpful when reviewing a text for an exam or essay. Try using different colors for each read-through or to signify different meanings.

5. Be specific. Vague annotations aren't very helpful. Make sure your note-taking is clear and straightforward so you can easily refer to them later. This may mean including specific inferences, key points, or questions in your annotations.

6. Connect ideas. When reading, you'll likely encounter ideas that connect to things you already know. When these connections occur, make a note of them. Use symbols or even sticky notes to connect ideas across pages. Annotating this way can help you see the text in a new light and make connections that you might not have otherwise considered.

7. Write in your own words. When annotating, copying what the author says verbatim can be tempting. However, it's more helpful to write, summarize or paraphrase in your own words. This will force you to engage your information processing system and gain a deeper understanding.

These tips can help you annotate more effectively and get the most out of your reading. However, it’s important to remember that, just like self-learning , there is no one "right" way to annotate. The process is meant to enrich your reading comprehension and deepen your understanding, which is highly individual. Most importantly, your annotating system should be helpful and meaningful for you.

Engage your learning like never before by learning how to annotate text

Learning to effectively annotate text is a powerful tool that can improve your reading, self-learning , and study strategies. Using an annotating system that includes text annotations and note-taking during close reading helps you actively engage with the text, leading to a deeper understanding of the material.

Try out different annotation strategies and find what works best for you. With practice, annotating will become second nature and you'll reap all the benefits this powerful tool offers.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. Feel free to share, recommend and connect 🙏

Connect with me on Twitter 👉

And follow Able's journey on Twitter:

And subscribe to our newsletter to read more valuable articles before it gets published on our blog.

Now we're building a Discord community of like-minded people, and we would be honoured and delighted to see you there.


Straight from the ABLE team: how we work and what we build. Thoughts, learnings, notes, experiences and what really matters.

Read more posts by this author

follow me :

Learning with a cognitive approach: 5 proven strategies to try

What is knowledge management the answer, plus 9 tips to get started.

Managing multiple tabs: how ABLE helps you tackle tab clutter

Managing multiple tabs: how ABLE helps you tackle tab clutter

What is abstract thinking? 10 activities to improve your abstract thinking skills

What is abstract thinking? 10 activities to improve your abstract thinking skills

0 results found.

  • Aegis Alpha SA
  • We build in public

Building with passion in

What Is an Annotation in Reading, Research, and Linguistics?

 Deux / Getty Images

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

An annotation is a note, comment, or  concise statement of the key ideas in a text or a portion of a text and is commonly used in reading instruction and in research . In corpus linguistics , an annotation is a coded note or comment that identifies specific linguistic features of a word or sentence.

One of the most common uses of annotations is in essay composition, wherein a student might annotate a larger work he or she is referencing, pulling and compiling a list of quotes to form an argument. Long-form essays and term papers, as a result, often come with an annotated bibliography , which includes a list of references as well as brief summaries of the sources.

There are many ways to annotate a given text, identifying key components of the material by underlining, writing in the margins, listing cause-effect relationships, and noting confusing ideas with question marks beside the statement in the text.

Identifying Key Components of a Text

When conducting research, the process of annotation is almost essential to retaining the knowledge necessary to understand a text's key points and features and can be achieved through a number of means.

Jodi Patrick Holschuh and Lori Price Aultman describe a student's goal for annotating text in "Comprehension Development," wherein the students "are responsible for pulling out not only the main points of the text but also the other key information (e.g., examples and details) that they will need to rehearse for exams."

Holschuh and Aultman go on to describe the many ways a student may isolate key information from a given text, including writing brief summaries in the student's own words, listing out characteristics and cause-and-effect relations in the text, putting key information in graphics and charts, marking possible test questions, and underlining keywords or phrases or putting a question mark next to confusing concepts.

REAP: A Whole-Language Strategy

According to Eanet & Manzo's 1976 "Read-Encode-Annotate-Ponder" strategy for teaching students language and reading comprehension , annotation is a vital part of a students' ability to understand any given text comprehensively.

The process involves the following four steps: Read to discern the intent of the text or the writer's message; Encode the message into a form of self-expression, or write it out in student's own words; Analyze by writing this concept in a note; and Ponder or reflect on the note, either through introspection or discussing with peers.

Anthony V. Manzo and Ula Casale Manzo describe the notion in "Content Area Reading: A Heuristic Approach" as among the earliest strategies developed to stress the use of writing as a means of improving thinking and reading," wherein these annotations "serve as alternative perspectives from which to consider and evaluate information and ideas."

  • 10 Strategies to Increase Student Reading Comprehension
  • What Is a Written Summary?
  • 5 Tips to Improve Reading Comprehension
  • Abstracting & Transcribing Genealogical Documents
  • How and When to Paraphrase Quotations
  • 7 Active Reading Strategies for Students
  • How to Read a Lot of Dry Text Quickly
  • How to Set Measurable, Achievable IEP Goals for Reading Comprehension
  • How to Find the Stated Main Idea
  • How to Keep a Reading Log or Book Journal
  • Thinking About Reading
  • Top Book Recommendations for Boys From Librarians
  • Tricks, Tips, and the Benefits of Pre-Reading Text
  • An Introduction to Academic Writing
  • 10 Ways to Maximize Your Study Time
  • Abstract Writing for Sociology

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

7 Strategies for Teaching Students How to Annotate

  • November 7, 2018

For many educators, annotation goes hand in hand with developing close reading skills. Annotation more fully engages students and increases reading comprehension strategies, helping students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for literature.

However, it’s also one of the more difficult skills to teach. In order to think critically about a text, students need to learn how to actively engage with the text they’re reading. Annotation provides that immersive experience, and new digital reading technologies not only make annotation easier than ever, but also make it possible for any book, article, or text to be annotated.

Below are seven strategies to help your students master the basics of annotation and become more engaged, closer readers.

1. Teach the Basics of Good Annotation

Help your students understand that annotation is simply the process of thoughtful reading and making notes as they study a text. Start with some basic forms of annotation:

  • highlighting a phrase or sentence and including a comment
  • circling a word that needs defining
  • posing a question when something isn’t fully understood
  • writing a short summary of a key section

Assure them that good annotating will help them concentrate and better understand what they read and better remember their thoughts and ideas when they revisit the text.

2. Model Effective Annotation

One of the most effective ways to teach annotation is to show students your own thought process when annotating a text. Display a sample text and think out loud as you make notes. Show students how you might underline key words or sentences and write comments or questions, and explain what you’re thinking as you go through the reading and annotation process.

Annotation Activity: Project a short, simple text and let students come up and write their own comments and discuss what they’ve written and why. This type of modeling and interaction helps students understand the thought process that critical reading requires.

3. Give Your Students a Reading Checklist

When first teaching students about annotation, you can help shape their critical analysis and active reading strategies by giving them specific things to look for while reading, like a checklist or annotation worksheet for a text. You might have them explain how headings and subheads connect with the text, or have them identify facts that add to their understanding.

4. Provide an Annotation Rubric

When you know what your annotation goals are for your students, it can be useful to develop a simple rubric that defines what high-quality and thoughtful annotation looks like. This provides guidance for your students and makes grading easier for you. You can modify your rubric as goals and students’ needs change over time.

5. Keep It Simple

Especially for younger or struggling readers, help your students develop self-confidence by keeping things simple. Ask them to circle a word they don’t know, look up that word in the dictionary, and write the definition in a comment. They can also write an opinion on a particular section, so there’s no right or wrong answer.

6. Teach Your Students How to Annotate a PDF

Or other digital texts. Most digital reading platforms include a number of tools that make annotation easy. These include highlighters, text comments, sticky notes, mark up tools for underlining, circling, or drawing boxes, and many more. If you don’t have a digital reading platform, you can also teach how to annotate a basic PDF text using simple annotation tools like highlights or comments.

7. Make It Fun!

The more creative you get with annotation, the more engaged your students will be. So have some fun with it!

  • Make a scavenger hunt by listing specific components to identify
  • Color code concepts and have students use multicolored highlighters
  • Use stickers to represent and distinguish the five story elements: character, setting, plot, conflict, and theme
  • Choose simple symbols to represent concepts, and let students draw those as illustrated annotations: a magnifying glass could represent clues in the text, a key an important idea, and a heart could indicate a favorite part

Annotation Activity: Create a dice game where students have to find concepts and annotate them based on the number they roll. For example, 1 = Circle and define a word you don’t know, 2 = Underline a main character, 3 = Highlight the setting, etc.

Teaching students how to annotate gives them an invaluable tool for actively engaging with a text. It helps them think more critically, it increases retention, and it instills confidence in their ability to analyze more complex texts.

More Resources articles

annotation of english language

20 Early Math Activities for PreK and Kindergarten Families

Teaching early math skills like counting, recognizing shapes, and using measurements such as time or length are perfect for building a strong learning foundation. Math

mother and child reading a book

What is Phonological Awareness and Why is it Important?

Phonological awareness examples Phonological awareness is the ability to hear the sounds that make up spoken, including individual letter sounds and syllables. It’s one of

annotation of english language

15 Earth Day Activities for Kids

Earth Day is right around the corner on April 22, and now is a great time to explore earth science with your child through activities

annotation of english language

End Bullying: October is National Bullying Prevention Month

teacher and students in classroom

50 Back to School Activities for Elementary Students

annotation of english language, ECECD Bring Early Learning Program to PreK-aged Children Across New Mexico

Teaching Student Annotation: Constructing Meaning Through Connections

Teaching Student Annotation: Constructing Meaning Through Connections

  • Resources & Preparation
  • Instructional Plan
  • Related Resources

Students learn about the purposes and techniques of annotation by examining text closely and critically. They study sample annotations and identify the purposes annotation can serve. Students then practice annotation through a careful reading of a story excerpt, using specific guidelines and writing as many annotations as possible. Students then work in pairs to peer review their annotations, practice using footnotes and PowerPoint to present annotations, and reflect on how creating annotations can change a reader's perspective through personal connection with text.

Featured Resources

  • Making Annotations: A User's Guide : Use this resource guide to help students make connections with text through definition, analysis of author purpose, paraphrasing, personal identification, explaining historical context, and more.

From Theory to Practice

In his English Journal article " I'll Have Mine Annotated, Please: Helping Students Make Connections with Text" Matthew D. Brown expresses a basic truth in English Language Arts instruction: "Reading is one thing, but getting something of value from what we read is another" (73). Brown uses the avenue of personal connection to facilitate the valuable outcomes that can result from reading and interacting with text. He begins with student-centered questions such as, "What were they thinking about as they read? What connections were they making? What questions did they have, and could they find answers to those questions?" (73). Brown's questions lead to providing students with instruction and opportunities that align with the NCTE Principles of Adolescent Literacy Reform: A Policy Research Brief by "link[ing] their personal experiences and their texts, making connections between the students' existing literacy resources and the ones necessary for various disciplines" (5). Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

Materials and Technology

  • Copies of "Eleven" by Sandra Cisceros or other text appropriate for the activities in this lesson
  • Colored Pencils
  • Sample Annotation PowerPoint on The Pearl
  • Making Annotations: A User's Guide or one students create after discussion
  • Annotation Sheet
  • Student Sample Annotations from "Eleven"
  • Annotation Peer Review Guide
  • Example Student Brainstorming for Annotation
  • Sample Revised and Published Annotations Using Footnotes


  • Find sample annotated texts to share with your students. Shakespeare's plays work well since many of his texts are annotated.  Red Reader editions published by Discovery Teacher have great user-friendly annotations geared toward young adult readers.  Look for selections that are engaging—ones that offer more than vocabulary definitions and give a variety of annotations beyond explanation and analysis.
  • Alternatively, search Google Books for any text with annotations.  A search for Romeo and Juliet , for example, will bring up numerous versions that can be viewed directly online.
  • While much of the work will be done by students, it is useful to take some time to think about the role of annotations in a text.  You will have students identify the functions of annotations, but it is always helpful if you have your own list of uses of annotations so that you can help guide students in this area of instruction if necessary.
  • Make copies of all necessary handouts.
  • Arrange for students to have access to Internet-connected computers if they will be doing their annotations in an online interactive.
  • Test the Literary Graffiti and Webbing Tool interactives on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.

Student Objectives

Students will:

  • examine and analyze text closely, critically, and carefully.
  • make personal, meaningful connections with text.
  • clearly communicate their ideas about a piece of text through writing, revision, and publication.

Session One

  • Begin the session by asking students if they are familar with the word annotation . Point out the words note and notation as clues to the word's meaning. If students know the word, proceed with the next step. If students are unfamiliar, ask them to determine what the word means by seeing what the texts you pass out in the next step have in common.
  • Pass out a variety of sample texts that use annotations. If you are using Google Books , direct students to texts online to have them examine the annotations that are used.
  • Have the students skim the texts and carefully examine the annotations.  Encourage students to begin to see the variety of ways that an editor of a text uses annotations.
  • Working with a small group of their peers, students should create a list that shows what effective annotations might do.
  • give definitions to difficult and unfamiliar words.
  • give background information, especially explaining customs, traditions, and ways of living that may be unfamiliar to the reader.
  • help explain what is going on in the text.
  • make connections to other texts.
  • point out the use of literary techniques and how they add meaning to the text.
  • can use humor (or other styles that might be quite different from the main text).
  • reveal that the writer of these annotations knows his or her reader well.
  • The process of generating this list should move into a discussion about where these annotations came from—who wrote them and why.  Guide students to think about the person who wrote these ideas, who looked at the text and did more than just read it, and who made a connection with the text.  It is important here that students begin to realize that their understanding of what they have read comes from their interaction with what is on the page.  You may wish to jumpstart the conversation by telling students about connections you make with watching films, as students may be more aware of doing so themselves.
  • touch them emotionally, making them feel happiness as well as sadness.
  • remind them of childhood experiences.
  • teach them something new.
  • change their perspective on an issue.
  • help them see how they can better relate to others around them.
  • help them see the world through someone else's experiences.
  • Before beginning the next lesson, create your Annotation Guide reflecting the different functions of annotation the class discussed today (or use the Sample Annotation Guide ).

Session Two

  • Pass out "Eleven" by Sandra Cisneros or any other text appropriate for your students and this activity.
  • Read and discuss the story as needed, but resist spending too much time with the story since the goal of annotation is to get the students to connect with the text in their own ways.
  • Pass out the Sample Annotation Guide or the one the class created and review the various ideas that were generated during the previous session, helping students to begin to think of the various ways that they can begin to connect to the story "Eleven."
  • Pass out the Annotation Sheet and ask the students to choose a particularly memorable section of the story, a section large enough to fill up the lines given to them on the Annotation Sheet .  (NOTE: While you could have the students create annotations in the margins of the entire text, isolating a small portion of the text will make the students' first attempt at annotations less daunting and more manageable. You can also use ReadWriteThink interactives Literary Graffiti or Webbing Tool at this point in the instructional process, replacing or supplementing the Annotation Sheet handout.)
  • Share with students the Student Sample Annotations from "Eleven" and use the opportunity to review the various purposes of annotating and preview directions for the activity.
  • Pass out the colored pencils.  Make sure that students can each use a variety of colors in their annotating.  Sharing pencils among members of a small group works best.
  • Have the students find a word, phrase, or sentence on their Annotation Sheet that is meaningful or significant to them.  Have them lightly color over that word, phrase, or sentence with one of their colored pencils.
  • Students should then draw a line out toward the margin from what they just highlighted on their Annotation Sheet .
  • Now students annotate their selected text.  Using the Sample Annotation Guide , students should write an annotation for the highlighted text.  They can talk about how they feel or discuss what images come to mind or share experiences that they have had.  Any connection with that part of the text should be encouraged at this entry-level stage.
  • Repeat this process several times.  Encourage students to use a variety of annotations from the Sample Annotation Guide .  But, most importantly, encourage them to make as many annotations as possible.
  • What did they get out of writing annotations?
  • What did they learn about the text that they didn't see before?
  • How might this make them better readers?
  • Students should take the time to share these reflections with each other and with the whole class. Collect responses to evaluate levels of engagement and to find any questions or concerns you may need to address.

Session Three

  • Return annotations from the previous session and address any questions or concerns.
  • Explain that, working in pairs, the students will examine each other's annotations and look for ideas that have the potential for further development and revision. 
  • Distribute copies the Annotation Peer Review Guide and explain how it will help them work together to select the best ideas that they have presented in their annotations. Peer review partners should label each annotation, comment on it, and look for several annotations that would benefit from revision and continued thinking.
  • Have each pair narrow down their ideas to the four or five most significant annotations per student.
  • Once this is done, give the students time to start revising and developing their ideas.  Encourage them to elaborate on their ideas by explaining connections more fully, doing basic research to answer questions or find necessary information, or providing whatever other development would be appropriate.
  • Circulate the room to look at what the students have chosen so that you can guide them with their development and writing.  If you see the need to offer more guiding feedback, collecting the annotation revisions during this process may be helpful.

Session Four

  • Once students have revised and developed a few of their annotations on their own, students should begin work toward a final draft.
  • The students exchange their revised annotations.
  • What is one thing that I really liked in this set of annotations?
  • What is one thing that I found confusing, needed more explanation, etc.?
  • If this were my set of annotations, what is one thing that I would change?
  • Encourage students to rely heavily on the Sample Annotation Guide and the Annotation Peer Review Guide to make these comments during the peer review process. They should be looking to see that there are a variety of annotations and that the annotations dig deeper than just surface comments (e.g., definitions) and move toward meaningful personal connections and even literary analysis.
  • Take the original format of the annotation sheet and have the students type up their work using colored text.
  • Teach the students how to footnote, and then have them use this footnoting technique for the final draft of their annotations. See the Sample Student Brainstorming for Annotation and Sample Revised and Published Annotations Using Footnotes on The Great Gatsby . If using Microsoft Word, visit the resource Insert a Footnote or Endnote for information on how to use this feature in Word.
  • Create a PowerPoint in which the first slide is the original text. The phrases are then highlighted in different colors and hyperlinked to other slides in the presentation which contain the annotations. See the Sample Annotation PowerPoint on The Pearl, and visit PowerPoint in the Classroom for tutorials on how to make the best use of PowerPoint functions.
  • What did they learn by doing this activity?
  • How did these annotations change their perspective on the text?
  • In what ways did their thinking change as they worked through the drafting, rewriting, and revising of their annotations?
  • Make sure that students are given time to share these reflections with each other and with the whole class.
  • annotate a whole text, using the margins for annotating
  • use sticky notes in textbooks or novels as a way to annotate larger works
  • use annotations as part of a formal essay to provide personal comments to supplement the analysis they have written.
  • Assessing Cultural Relevance: Exploring Personal Connections to a Text
  • Graffiti Wall: Discussing and Responding to Literature Using Graphics
  • In Literature, Interpretation Is the Thing
  • Literary Scrapbooks Online: An Electronic Reader-Response Project
  • Reader Response in Hypertext: Making Personal Connections to Literature
  • Creative Outlining—From Freewriting to Formalizing

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Review and comment on student reflections after each step of the annotation drafting and revision process.
  • If you use this lesson as an introduction to the idea of annotation, the focus of the assessment should be on the variety of annotations a student makes.  Even so, teachers should be able to observe if students were able to move beyond surface connections (defining words, summarizing the story, and so forth) to deeper connections with the text (personal feelings, relating evens to past experiences, and so forth).  Use an adaptation of the Annotation Peer Review Guide in this process.
  • For those who take this lesson to its completion by having students generate a final published draft, the focus should move from just looking for a variety of annotations to focusing on the quality of the annotations.  By working through the writing process with these annotations, students should have been able to comment meaningfully beyond what they began with in their “rough draft.”  This should be most evident in the reflections students write in response to the process of creating annotations. Again, a modified version of the Annotation Peer Review Guide would be suitable for this evaluative purpose.
  • Student Interactives
  • Strategy Guides
  • Professional Library
  • Calendar Activities

The Webbing Tool provides a free-form graphic organizer for activities that ask students to pursue hypertextual thinking and writing.

  • Print this resource

Explore Resources by Grade

  • Kindergarten K

annotation of english language

5 Simple Steps to Annotate a Book for AP English Language

If you want to know how to annotate a book in AP English Language and Composition, check out these 5 simple steps to annotate effectively.

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably taking AP English Language and Composition this year ( if you’re taking AP English Literature, check out this guide on how to annotate books for AP English Literature instead ).

Your summer assignment is to read and annotate a book (or two… or even three, depending on your teacher) and complete an assignment on it.

Or, the school year has already started and you have a similar assignment, and you’re not sure what to do.

When I first started AP English Language, I had no idea how to annotate properly either. I felt overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin.

It's normal to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of annotating a book in AP English Language at the beginning.

However, over a year, I learned to refine my annotation techniques. This helped me with critical analysis on the AP exam and led me to score a 5.

In this article, I’ll be providing a step-by-step guide on how to annotate a book for AP English Language effectively. At the end of it, you’ll also know how to prepare yourself for effective annotation and analysis on the actual AP English Language exam.

Check out this FREE 12-page high school plan workbook, meant to guide you in choosing classes, extracurriculars, and more to get into your dream college.

What is the purpose of the AP English Language course? How is it different from AP English Literature?

AP English Language and AP English Literature are two different courses with two very different aims. When you read and annotate texts for these two courses, you should be looking for and thinking about different things. 

Therefore, it’s essential to understand the distinction if you want to do effective annotation.

What Does AP English Language Assess You On?

AP English Language assesses your ability to:

  • Identify an author’s attitude toward a subject
  • Identify and explain the rhetorical devices the author uses to persuade you of their opinion
  • Make your own effective arguments

Let’s take the example of 1984 by George Orwell, a very commonly-used novel in AP English Language classes.

Orwell wrote the book to address totalitarianism. It’s clear from the book that Orwell disapproves of totalitarianism entirely—the whole point of the book is to show how dangerous it is.

In the book, Newspeak is the official language of the totalitarian state of Oceania. It is very limited in what it allows speakers to express, thus controlling their thoughts and ability to resist. Newspeak can be interpreted as a symbol of psychological control and censorship.

In George Orwell's 1984, the government of Oceania uses different tactics to control every aspect of people's lives.

Through the use of Newspeak, Orwell illustrates the terrifying control a totalitarian government can exert over people. This is an effective way of conveying his condemning attitude toward totalitarianism. 

In AP English Language, you’ll be interpreting many speeches, cartoons, and other forms of media. You’ll be analyzing how authors make their content persuasive. Then, you’ll use what you’ve learned to make your own persuasive arguments.

What does AP English Literature Assess You On?

AP English Literature assesses your ability to:

  • Identify the deeper themes in a text (how the text relates to humanity and life)
  • Identify and explain literary devices the author uses to convey the themes

Let’s take the example of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, a commonly-used book in AP English Literature classes.

A primary theme in the novel is the dangers of unrestrained scientific exploration.

Throughout the novel, Shelley uses setting changes to demonstrate how Victor Frankenstein’s scientific ambitions have increasingly isolated him from humanity. Victor goes from living at home to attending boarding school to working in a lab in the mountains to doing a mad goose chase in the Arctic.

In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor goes on a wild goose chase for his monster in the Arctic.

As he becomes increasingly engrossed in his scientific work, he becomes increasingly alienated from humanity, both physically and figuratively. The setting of the novel reflects this evolution. 

In AP English Literature, you need to read novels and poems and understand their universal themes relating to humanity.

You may also like “Most Impressive AP Classes + Useful Tips to Succeed in Them”

What is Annotating?

Before you start annotating a book for AP English, you need to understand what annotating is. 

Annotating involves thinking beyond the meaning of the words on the page. 

When reading a novel, this means thinking beyond the immediate events of the plot. It means asking questions like, “Why does the author use this metaphor here? What message are they trying to convey?”

When reading a speech, this means thinking beyond the surface meaning of the speaker’s words. It means asking questions like, “What is the context in which the speaker gave this speech? What audience were they addressing? How did these factors affect how they communicated their ideas?” 

To annotate a book in AP English Lang, you need to think beyond the surface meaning of the words on the page.

When you annotate, you should constantly be thinking about the greater significance of literary and rhetorical choices made by the author. Then, you should jot down your thoughts in the margins.

Why is Annotating So Important?

Knowing how to annotate a book for AP English Language is extremely important because it teaches you how authors persuade their readers effectively. As a result, you learn how to make more effective arguments in your writing.

On the AP English Language exam, you will need to write three essays: one analysis of a rhetorical passage and two argumentative essays of your own. By annotating properly, you develop the critical thinking skills necessary to identify and explain rhetorical devices, as well as logically argue your point.

Beyond the course, you’ll find that you become more aware of the rhetorical strategies in everything you read. Also, your ability to make effective arguments will come in handy in many situations.

Annotating books in AP English Language will teach you about how authors effectively communicate their message. This will help you make more effective arguments.

What Tools Do You Need to Annotate? 

To annotate, you only need a few things that you probably already have:

  • A highlighter
  • A writing instrument (pencil or pen is fine)
  • A copy of the book you’re annotating

And that’s it! Just remember that you shouldn’t go crazy with underlining or highlighting long sections. Your annotations, while detailed, should be legible. If you want to make a note about a long section, I suggest bracketing it.

Steps to Annotate a Book for AP English Language Effectively

We’ve finally reached the section on how to annotate a book for AP English Language. By following the 5 simple steps below, you’ll be on your way to becoming a better AP English student and critical thinker.

You may also like "The Ultimate Guide to Get a 5 on AP U.S. History"

Step #1: Actively Think Beyond the Surface Meaning

The whole point of annotating is to get you to think beyond the surface meaning of the words.

From the moment you pick up your book, you should be questioning the significance of various details. Why did the author include this reference? Why did the author include this character? What is the significance of these lines of dialogue?

Authors include certain details for a reason. Your goal should be to make educated guesses about those reasons.

Also, annotating shouldn’t feel easy because it isn't easy. As you’re reading and annotating, you should feel the gears of your brain turning.

Annotating books in AP English Lang isn't easy and shouldn't feel easy.

Step #2: Think About the Author’s Message

A huge part of AP English Language is being able to identify the argument an author is making  and  how they make their argument effective.

As you’re reading, contemplate the author’s message. For example, in  1984 , George Orwell’s message to readers is that totalitarianism is extremely dangerous.

Step #3: Identify Rhetorical Devices

To understand how authors make effective arguments, you need to explain how the rhetorical devices they use contribute to their argument.

As  this source  describes it, “Rhetorical devices are formative techniques used to evoke emotion or persuade.” In other words, they are tools employed by authors to convince you of their opinion.

Below, I've included a list of the rhetorical devices I most commonly referred to as an AP English language student.

Ethos is used to show that the author is qualified to speak about a topic. For example, a speaker talking about the possibility of parallel universes may talk about their educational background and research in physics.

As you can see, ethos is extremely important.

Hello, I'm a psychology major, and today, I'll be talking about why you should believe in the existence of parallel universes. Boo! Next! PS No hate against psychology majors, but I hope you see my point.

Pathos is an appeal to the audience’s emotions. For example, an environmental activist raising awareness about habitat protection may show images of animals suffering from habitat loss.

Logos is an appeal to the audience’s logical reasoning. For example, the author of an article about why people should stop texting while driving may include statistics about accidents related to phone usage.


Juxtaposition is where two things are placed next to each other to accentuate their contrast.

For example, consider these few lines from the 2016 AP English Language rhetorical analysis passage:

“Others prophesied the decline of the West. He inspired America and its allies with renewed faith in their mission of freedom. Others saw only limits to growth. He transformed a stagnant economy into an engine of opportunity. Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union. He won the Cold War, not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.”

In this section, Margaret Thatcher contrasts what people expected and what Ronald Reagan did. In doing so, she shows how Reagan was a resilient, capable leader who found a way to succeed in times of difficulty.

This contributes to her overall message: that Reagan was an incredible leader, dedicated to promoting the welfare of the American people.

Syntax is how words and sentences are arranged. It is an artistic choice that can be used to emphasize an author’s message.

In the excerpt from Thatcher’s speech, you can see that she uses syntax to convey her message. She alternates between starting sentences with “Others” and “He”.

In doing so, she marks the contrast between majority pessimism and Reagan’s resilient, inspiring attitude.

Use these 9 pages of prompts to help you figure out what extracurriculars to pursue in high school.

A simile compares two objects using “like” or “as”.

In the following excerpt from the 2021 AP English Language rhetorical analysis prompt, the writer (novelist Marian Evans Lewes) uses a simile:

“What comes after, is rather the sense that the work has been produced within one, like offspring, developing and growing by some force of which one’s own life has only served as a vehicle, and that what is left of oneself is only a poor husk.”

In the passage, Lewes is responding to a young woman who has written to her about her dreams to become an author. In her letter, she advises the young woman to be patient and faithful about writing, instead of being driven by ambition.

Through this simile, she shows that the success of one’s work does not usually bring glory. Instead, like nurturing a child for 9 months in one’s body, it leaves you drained.

In doing so, she emphasizes her point that a writer should not be driven by ambition. What ambition promises—the glory of your success—is usually not fulfilled.

A metaphor compares two objects to one another directly, without using “like” or “as”.

In the same passage from Lewes, she uses a metaphor:

“It is a misfortune to many that they begin to write when they are young and give out all that is genuine and peculiar in them when it can be no better than trashy, unripe fruit.”

She evokes a direct comparison between immature writing and “trashy, unripe fruit”. In doing so, she emphasizes her point that the young woman should not be impatient.

Imagery is an appeal to the five senses. In the 2021 AP English language rhetorical analysis passage, former president Barack Obama uses imagery:

“... not thinking about the blisters on their feet, the weariness after a full day of work…”

In this excerpt, he was referring to the thousands of people who boycotted public transportation in Montgomery, Alabama.

The main message of his speech was to encourage the American people to stand up for justice as Rosa Parks did. By appealing to the senses through details like “blisters” and “weariness”, Obama demonstrates the resilience and admirability of people who stand up for justice.

Diction refers to the word choice of the author. Simply referring to diction as a rhetorical device is not enough. You have to be specific about the type of diction the author employs.

Does the author use formal language? Or perhaps the author uses colloquial phrases?

For example, a speaker may use colloquial phrases to relate to their audience. In contrast, if the same speaker were to use formal language, their message would not resonate as deeply with the audience.

You may also like " How to Take APUSH Notes—Improve Speed, Memory, and Grades"

Tone is used to describe an author’s attitude toward a subject. There is an endless list of tone words to choose from, but generally, the more specific, the better.

For example, saying that an author has a negative tone regarding a subject doesn’t say much. However, saying that the author has a condemnatory tone tells more about their attitude.

Here is an example of tone as a rhetorical device in practice:

Say that your mom is angry at you for turning in your homework late. As a result, she tells you that your lack of discipline will hurt you in more major ways than a small homework grade in the future.

Moms are good at making effective arguments.

Her condemnatory tone makes you realize what a poor choice you made by watching TV instead of doing homework.

She convinces you to see the situation from her point of view: that not doing your homework demonstrated a lack of discipline, which will have far-reaching consequences if you don't fix it.

These are just a few examples of rhetorical devices to look for when annotating a book for AP English. Check out a more comprehensive list of rhetorical devices with examples here.

Step #4: Comment on the Significance of the Rhetorical Device

Once you’ve identified the rhetorical device, you need to comment on its significance. If you don't, there’s no point in marking it.

Simply identifying metaphors or similes or clever syntax doesn’t tell anything about the author’s message or rhetorical choices.

Notice that in the examples I provided in the previous step, I always linked the rhetorical device back to the author’s main message.

While annotating, you should be thinking along these lines as well.

Ask yourself questions like, “How does this detail relate to the author’s main message?” and “How does the author use ethos, pathos, and logos to convince me of their message?” (One of my summer assignments for AP English Language was to identify at least 5 examples each of ethos, pathos, and logos in a book. You must be familiar with the rhetorical triangle and be able to apply it.)

Step #5: Don’t Be Afraid to Mark Other Things

Although it’s important to mark rhetorical devices while reading, you can also mark anything else that warrants a comment.

Not every annotation needs to be incredibly deep and meaningful.

As you’re reading, jot down questions you have or other comments, like an emotional response or a connection to something you’re familiar with.

While annotating a book for AP English Lang, you can mark and comment on things other than rhetorical devices.

FAQ About Annotating

How much should you annotate .

A common question I see asked is how much to annotate.

In general, I suggest writing as much as possible. Whenever some deeper meaning emerges to you, immediately jot it down.

Also, I recommend going back and rereading. Each time you reread, you will notice new details worth noting down.

However, keep in mind that more does not always mean more. Annotating more does not always equal more value.

Make sure your annotations are meaningful—most of them should probe beyond the surface meaning of the words on the page. They should relate to the message and rhetorical choices of the author.

How Do You Annotate Without Ruining the Book? 

Another question I see frequently is how to annotate a book without ruining it.

What happens when you don't want to annotate a book for fear of ruining it...

Ahhh but it's so beautiful! It would be a crime to write in this

As a book lover who likes to keep my books pristine, I can empathize with this dilemma. In general, however, I am mostly particular about books that hold special memories.

When it comes to non-fiction books and assigned readings, I actually prefer to annotate extensively. Sometimes, I jot down my thoughts directly in the margins. Other times, I highlight a few sentences and write down my thoughts on a sticky note.

However, if you are still worried, check out these  options for annotating  without writing in the book.

Overview of How to Annotate a Book for AP English Language

To annotate a book for AP English Language effectively, you should always be thinking about:

  • The author’s message
  • Rhetorical choices made by the author to convince you of their message

To do this, you should be:

  • Actively thinking beyond the surface meaning of the words
  • Contemplating the author’s overall message
  • Identifying rhetorical choices
  • Explaining the significance of the rhetorical choices
  • Asking questions and marking anything else worth bringing attention to

Additionally, it’s good practice to reread because with each reread, you will notice new important details.

Annotating effectively isn’t an easy skill, but it is a valuable one. When you feel discouraged, remember that annotating should feel like it’s really working your brain.

If you learn how to annotate a book in AP English Lang effectively, you'll improve your critical thinking skills.

If you feel the gears of your brain turning, remember that you’re strengthening your critical thinking skills. These critical analysis skills will be essential for your success on the AP English Language and Composition exam and beyond.

I hope you found this guide to annotating books in AP English Language helpful! Let me know which book you’re currently reading for AP English Language in the comments below!

For more posts on AP class tips, check out:

  • How to Annotate a Book for AP English Literature
  • Most Impressive AP Classes (+ Useful Tips to Succeed in Them) Part 1 —math and science
  • Most Impressive AP Classes (+ Useful Tips to Succeed in Them) Part 2 —humanities/social sciences and foreign language
  • The Ultimate Guide to Get a 5 on AP Spanish Language and Culture
  • The Ultimate Guide to Get a 5 on AP U.S. History

annotation of english language

My name is Angie, and I’m a college student who’s passionate about science, music, and writing. I created Learning With Angie as a place to share honest, unfiltered advice to promote student success. So if you’re a student (high school, college, or beyond) looking for tips on productivity, studying, personal growth, and more to reach your potential, this is the place! To read more about me, click here .

Looking for a productive day schedule for students? Check out this article for a productive student schedule example with 12 hours of productivity. You'll also find 17 productive routines for students that you can use to make the most of your day every day.

Biweekly emails with tips and resources to help you become a more productive, organized, and inspired student!

About the Author: Angie

' src=

Connect with me!

Related Posts

All-in-One College Application Tracking Spreadsheet to Ace College Apps

All-in-One College Application Tracking Spreadsheet to Ace College Apps

College Application Timeline for Seniors: Must-Do Tasks!

College Application Timeline for Seniors: Must-Do Tasks!

Ultimate College Application Planner + 14 Must-Do Tasks

Ultimate College Application Planner + 14 Must-Do Tasks

Is AP Lang Harder Than APUSH? A Guide to Decide What to Take

Is AP Lang Harder Than APUSH? A Guide to Decide What to Take

Is An Internship An Extracurricular Activity + Other EC FAQs

Is An Internship An Extracurricular Activity + Other EC FAQs

AP Bio vs. AP Physics: How to Decide Which to Take

AP Bio vs. AP Physics: How to Decide Which to Take

Failproof Guide to Annotate a Book for AP English Literature

Failproof Guide to Annotate a Book for AP English Literature

How to Get Your Life Together as a Student in 2023

How to Get Your Life Together as a Student in 2023

7 Easy Steps to Start a Peer Tutoring Program as a Student

7 Easy Steps to Start a Peer Tutoring Program as a Student

3 Simple Steps to Prepare for AP US History Over the Summer

3 Simple Steps to Prepare for AP US History Over the Summer

Leave a comment cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Looking for something specific?

© Copyright 2023

Privacy Overview

  • More from M-W
  • To save this word, you'll need to log in. Log In

Definition of annotation

Example sentences.

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'annotation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

see annotate

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Dictionary Entries Near annotation

Cite this entry.

“Annotation.” Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Aug. 2023.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of annotation, legal definition, legal definition of annotation, more from merriam-webster on annotation.

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for annotation

Nglish: Translation of annotation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of annotation for Arabic Speakers

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Play Quordle: Guess all four words in a limited number of tries.  Each of your guesses must be a real 5-letter word.

Can you solve 4 words at once?

Word of the day.

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

a group of lemurs

  • TheFreeDictionary
  • Word / Article
  • Starts with
  • Free toolbar & extensions
  • Word of the Day
  • Free content

Meaning of annotation in English

Your browser doesn't support HTML5 audio

  • The new translation of the Latin work includes extensive annotation by scholars .
  • It's a book that cries out for annotation.
  • The program is designed for annotation of images .
  • There is an easy-to-use facility in the program for adding annotations to your document .
  • creative writing
  • intertextual
  • intertextuality
  • intertextually
  • self-portrait
  • versification

You can also find related words, phrases, and synonyms in the topics:

Translations of annotation

Get a quick, free translation!


Word of the Day

a flag in the shape of a triangle

Tossing and turning (Talking about sleep, Part 3)

Tossing and turning (Talking about sleep, Part 3)

annotation of english language

Learn more with +Plus

  • Recent and Recommended {{#preferredDictionaries}} {{name}} {{/preferredDictionaries}}
  • Definitions Clear explanations of natural written and spoken English English Learner’s Dictionary Essential British English Essential American English
  • Grammar and thesaurus Usage explanations of natural written and spoken English Grammar Thesaurus
  • Pronunciation British and American pronunciations with audio English Pronunciation
  • English–Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Simplified)–English
  • English–Chinese (Traditional) Chinese (Traditional)–English
  • English–Dutch Dutch–English
  • English–French French–English
  • English–German German–English
  • English–Indonesian Indonesian–English
  • English–Italian Italian–English
  • English–Japanese Japanese–English
  • English–Norwegian Norwegian–English
  • English–Polish Polish–English
  • English–Portuguese Portuguese–English
  • English–Spanish Spanish–English
  • Dictionary +Plus Word Lists
  • English    Noun
  • Translations
  • All translations

Add annotation to one of your lists below, or create a new one.


Something went wrong.

There was a problem sending your report.


  1. Pin on education

    annotation of english language

  2. How To Annotate Example

    annotation of english language

  3. English Class Annotation Chart (2)

    annotation of english language

  4. 5. Secondary Annotation Example: Topic Sentences

    annotation of english language

  5. Annotate Poems

    annotation of english language

  6. Annotated poem

    annotation of english language


  1. What to look for when annotating

    1 2 What to look for when annotating Annotating structure Read the text and look for patterns in the structure, for example: Sentence length and type - eg single or multi-clause sentences....

  2. How to Annotate Texts

    How do you prepare? The resources linked in this section list strategies and techniques you can use to start annotating. What is Annotating? (Charleston County School District) This resource gives an overview of annotation styles, including useful shorthands and symbols.

  3. Syntactically Annotating Learner Language of English (SALLE)

    To acheive this end, our annotation scheme adds several pieces of linguistic information about each word, based on its context in the sentence, and based on the rules of English (the target language). We annotate dependency relations to mark syntactic relations between words in a sentence - e.g., one word is the subject of another word.

  4. Annotating Texts

    What is annotation? Annotation can be: A systematic summary of the text that you create within the document A key tool for close reading that helps you uncover patterns, notice important words, and identify main points An active learning strategy that improves comprehension and retention of information Why annotate?

  5. What to look for when annotating

    Learn how to annotate language, structure, quotations and literary techniques in texts with this BBC Bitesize GCSE English Language (AQA) study guide.

  6. Annotating texts

    AQA Annotating texts Annotating is when you add notes or comments to a text; this could also include underlining or circling individual words or phrases. Part of English Language Analysing...

  7. [1012.5962] Annotated English

    The annotations are defined and located in such a way that the original English text is not altered (not even a letter), thus allowing for a consistent reading and learning of the English language with and without annotations. The annotations are based on a set of general rules that make the frequency of annotations not dramatically high.

  8. University of Pennsylvania ScholarlyCommons

    In ordinary language, 'annotation' means a sort of commentary or explanation (typically indexed to particular portions of a text), or the act of producing such a commentary. Like 'markup', this term's ordinary meaning plausibly covers the non-transcriptional kinds of linguistic analysis, such as the

  9. How to Write an Annotation

    For the annotation of media assignments in this class, you will cite and comment on a minimum of THREE (3) statements, facts, examples, research or any combination of those from the notes you take about selected media. Here is an example format for an assignment to annotate media: Passage #. Describe Passage. My Comments / Ideas.

  10. Definitional and human constraints on structural annotation of English

    The limits on predictability and refinement of English structural annotation are examined by comparing independent annotations, by experienced analysts using the same detailed published guidelines, of a common sample of written texts. ... seems a particularly significant one for human language use. These findings should be of interest both to ...

  11. (PDF) Annotated English

    Annotated English Authors: Jose Hernandez-Orallo Universitat Politècnica de València Abstract and Figures This document presents Annotated English, a system of diacritical symbols which turns...

  12. Annotate

    To annotate is to make notes on or mark up a text with one's thoughts, questions, or realizations while reading. The term annotation refers to the actual notes one has written during the...

  13. Annotating

    Figure 1. Identifying the 5 stages of a plot will help you as you annotate works of fiction. The Point of View: The point of view is the teller of the story. Figure 2. Recognizing which point of view is being used is another helpful tool in annotating. Themes: Themes are the major ideas expressed in a story.

  14. Annotating text: The complete guide to close reading

    Annotated text is a written piece that includes additional notes and commentary from the reader. These notes can be about anything from the author's style and tone to the main themes of the work. By providing context and personal reactions, annotations can turn a dry text into a lively conversation.

  15. Annotations in Reading, Research, and Linguistics

    An annotation is a note, comment, or concise statement of the key ideas in a text or a portion of a text and is commonly used in reading instruction and in research. In corpus linguistics, an annotation is a coded note or comment that identifies specific linguistic features of a word or sentence.

  16. 7 Strategies for Teaching Students How to Annotate

    1. Teach the Basics of Good Annotation Help your students understand that annotation is simply the process of thoughtful reading and making notes as they study a text. Start with some basic forms of annotation: highlighting a phrase or sentence and including a comment circling a word that needs defining

  17. Teaching Student Annotation: Constructing Meaning Through Connections

    In his English Journal article " I'll Have Mine Annotated, Please: Helping Students Make Connections with Text" Matthew D. Brown expresses a basic truth in English Language Arts instruction: "Reading is one thing, but getting something of value from what we read is another" (73). Brown uses the avenue of personal connection to facilitate the ...

  18. 5 Simple Steps to Annotate a Book for AP English Language

    Identify an author's attitude toward a subject Identify and explain the rhetorical devices the author uses to persuade you of their opinion Make your own effective arguments Let's take the example of 1984 by George Orwell, a very commonly-used novel in AP English Language classes. Orwell wrote the book to address totalitarianism.


    uk / ˌæn.əˈteɪ.ʃ ə n / us / ˌæn.əˈteɪ.ʃ ə n / Add to word list a short explanation or note added to a text or image, or the act of adding short explanations or notes: The annotation of literary texts makes them more accessible. The revised edition of the book includes many useful annotations. computing, language specialized

  20. Annotation Definition & Meaning

    1 : a note added by way of comment or explanation The bibliography was provided with helpful annotations. 2 : the act of annotating something Example Sentences Without the annotations, the diagram would be hard to understand. the author's annotation of the diagram


    formal uk / ˈæn.ə.teɪt / us / ˈæn.ə.teɪt / [ often passive ] to add a short explanation or opinion to a text or image: Annotated editions of Shakespeare's plays help readers to understand old words. an annotated bibliography / manuscript / edition His great-granddaughter has painstakingly transcribed and annotated his wartime diaries.

  22. Annotation

    1. The act or process of furnishing critical commentary or explanatory notes. 2. A critical or explanatory note; a commentary. American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

  23. Intensive English Communication Program focuses on sustainable

    Energized by a vision of developing English language proficiency in tandem with sustainable social, economic, environmental and cultural practices and perspectives, faculty at Penn State's Intensive English Communication Program converted their core curriculum to focus on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. An essential component of the program-level transformation was the ...

  24. Intel Unveils Future-Generation Xeon with Robust Performance and

    Xeon processors with E-cores provide best-in-class power-performance density, offering distinct advantages for cloud-native and hyperscale workloads. 2.5x better rack density and 2.4x higher performance per watt 1. Support for 1S and 2S servers, with up to 144c per CPU and TDP as low as 200W. Modern instruction set with robust security ...


    annotation meaning: 1. a short explanation or note added to a text or image, or the act of adding short explanations or…. Learn more.