What is Annotating a Text? Remember that a text can take many forms, because a text can be anything that uses a form of communication to convey a message to an audience. That message can be carried using any form of communication, including language or text, visual elements, auditory elements, tactile elements, and beyond. Texts can take the form of traditional print artifacts, such as a newspaper or a chapter in a textbook, but they can also take many other forms such as infographics, billboards, television commercials, or objects (such as t-shirts or water bottles).
Growing as a writer requires developing close reading skills: writers should practice interpreting texts around them to discover how texts are created, how they “work,” and how others might interact with them and understand them. Texts only take on meaning when a reader constructs a meaning through the process of interpretation. To help draw your attention to how you construct meaning as a close reader, you’re expected to annotate many texts in this class. You are expected to complete annotations by hand in this course.
Psychotherapist and journaling expert Maud Purcell suggests (Links to an external site.) that the act of writing helps filter information and focus; Maria Konnikova of The New York Times reports (Links to an external site.) that psychologists and neuroscientists have found that writing longhand improves retention of information, helps generate more ideas, and deepens reading abilities. If you require accommodations for the activity of writing by hand, you may complete annotations in a digital form, perhaps by using Adobe Reader or your preferred platform to create text boxes and other markings that make similar moves that hand-written annotations would.
Annotation is the process of marking on and interacting with a text to construct an interpretation of it as you consume it.
This guide offers some strategies that will help you practice annotating and become a close reader. Annotations can take two main forms: markings and verbal comments.
Markings can include moves such as underlining, circling, highlighting, and other ways of flagging parts of the text. For example, you can:
Especially if the process of annotation is new to you, try this “formula” for constructing comments: simply take notes any time you appreciate, notice, or wonder something by starting comments in one of the following forms:
Here are other suggestions for how to verbalize your interpretations as you read:
Annotation Video Guide
If you’re annotating using pen and PA.PER:
If you’re annotating using a stylus on a tablet or other device:
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