Why Annotate Your Texts in Studying English?
Annotating texts is a powerful step in getting to know your text and optimising your essay responses. Keep in mind as a reader and annotator 2 important questions:
- “What is the author saying?
- How are they constructing their meaning/values in their text?”
Listed below are some helpful tips in learning how to annotate:
A Definition: To annotate means to add notes to a text where you provide extra comments or explanations (usually in the margins of the book).
Break up the text by using post flags to distinguish sections or chapters
Some texts are large and sections or chapters are not easy to recognise but a good way to identify the sections is to use post flags to break up the text. This will make scanning the book much easier later when you are searching for a specific passage for an essay.
Think of your text as a colouring book
One way is to use different coloured highlighters for different themes. Think of it as creating a trail for you to follow throughout the book. If you don’t like using highlighters, another simple way is to use coloured post flags to highlight certain pages where you can underline the themes with explanations at the top of the page.
Circle new vocabulary
Look it up and then write their definitions next to the word. Using higher level metalanguage in your essays is going to help to gain better marks.
Write notes in the margins or at the top of pages
Here you can summarise the chapters at the top of the page and then other significant points of a passage as you read through the text.
What are the best items to annotate?
- Character descriptions & dialogues significant to the plot/character development
- Historical, cultural, social and natural contexts relevant to understanding the text
- Structure of the text, narrative voice/viewpoint, implications for the plot & characters
- Themes, motifs & symbols that are connected to characters & plot and how these represent ideas or concepts that show the author’s values and meaning
- Literary devices such as metaphors, similes and foreshadowing that show how the author constructs meaning and structure of the text
- Plot changes, major events and how they affect characters and meaning of the text