When you annotate non-fiction, you identify important informationand record your ideas about its ideas, claims, and writing style.
While annotating may seem like "extra work" and even unnecessary,here are some big payoffs:
- annotation improves comprehension and writing;
- it creates a virtual slideshow of information for later study that eliminates most rereading;
- annotation promotes deeper reflection, analysis, and insight;
- it helps you stay focused and makes reading more tangible and present
When do you annotate?
The best time to annotate is when the reading's subject matter challenges or significantly expands what you already know.Avoid annotating ideas, concepts or information that are familiar or that you've mastered.
What should I annotate, and how should I do it?
Whenever you underline something in the text, you should write something about it in the margin.Always use the same symbols (be consistent!) Use your own words (paraphrase).
Annotation is an excellent and quick test of your understanding: If you can’t write it, you don’t understand it.
Find the author's biginsight about his topic and be able to articulate it.
That big insight serves as the platform for everything else you annotate in the article.
Let's take a look at an example:
Article: "The Creative Personality"
Author: Mihaly Csikszentmihaly
After a couple of opening paragraphs that contextualize his topic and his own work in the field, he articulates his big insight about creativity:
In order to capture the author's big insight, you need to identify and use its key vocabulary; language is how we structure and express knowledge. Make sure you define all unknown words so that you can move on to the next crucial step: make the big insight your own.
You should paraphrase the big insight. Here's one attempt:
As you continue to read the article, your annotations should serve to illuminate and deepen this big insight. Eventually, you will arrange those annotations on the platform created by this big insight.
In other words, annotating is your way of deepening your understanding of the author's big insight. Anything else is probably a waste of time.
Annotate different elements of the text: