Note Taking While Reading In 3 Steps: As Simple As 1-2-3

Infographic explaining 3 steps of note taking while reading identify, annotate, and summarize

Take notes in three steps to remember while reading, no matter what note-taking style you decide to use.

1. Highlight: Identify the keywords that you want to highlight. Whether using a highlighter or underlining with your pencil or pen, only essential words need to stand out. Be sure to choose the most important words to understand the topic. When you go back to review the chapter or article, it’s vital that the words that bring meaning, understanding, and mastery of the subject are visible quickly and clearly.

Tip: Often, the genre or type of article can help determine the best words, phrases, or information to highlight.

2. Annotate: Note-taking while reading requires interacting with the information and words instead of a cold read. Write the main idea of essential paragraphs in your own words. If you chunk the word annotate, the suffix ‘ate’ means “to give a thing, state, or quality, and the root word note is evident as well. The act of annotation means to make a note. Once you’ve highlighted the essential words and phrases, follow up with an annotation that briefly and concisely explains the importance of the highlighted section(s). Marginal annotations should be five words or less.

3. Summarize: Paraphrase the essential information to summarize the reading. Combine the annotations to create a summary of the article or chapter. Culminating a reading session with a summary provides study notes and helps you retain the information and understand your own. If it takes more than one reading session to read the article or chapter, continue to add to the summary from your annotations of the day.

Tip: When you take notes while reading in three steps, be sure to jot down any questions that you have along the way. If you find the answer later as you read, then cross out that question. If you still have questions, be sure to ask these in the next class or discussion board.)

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