annotation

How to Take Notes While Reading an Essay (Annotation)

In the margin of your text, write at least one note next to every single paragraph. Each note can be just a few words, or a short sentence. In your entire set of notes, include at least one (preferably more than one) of each of the following kinds:

  1. Main idea in this paragraph (a good way to find the main idea is to start by writing: In this paragraph I hear the author saying… and seeing what comes next)

  2. Purpose (what is the author trying to achieve in this paragraph?)

  3. Intended audience: to whom is the author directing (all or one particular part of) this paragraph?

  4. Rhetorical strategy (rhetorical strategies include asking questions, giving examples, creating an image, making a metaphor, defining a term or phrase, comparing/contrasting, threatening with something worse, offering something better, praise, satire, personal report/confession, laying the groundwork for an argument…&c.)

  5. Logical device (logical devices include syllogism (if A is true and B is true, then C must be true), appeals to authority (e.g. if a Nobel prize-winner says it, it must be true), guilt, etc.)

  6. Any interesting comparison you notice to statements in other things you’ve read (e.g. Compare this to what Orwell says on page…)

  7. Anything else that feels important to note.

 

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