Active Reading:
Effectively Engaging with the Text

In order to read effectively, you need to develop a strategy that will work for you. Annotating a reading passage—writing notes on the pages of the reading selection itself—is one strategy you can use to become actively involved in what you're reading (whatever the course).


Although annotating may seem to take more time, it will benefit you in at least two ways:

If you have to return to the text (for example, when studying for a test or writing a paper), you won't have to reread the entire piece. Notes written within the text and in the margins can serve to remind you of important ideas.

When you write notes about reading selections, you develop active rather than passive reading skills. In general, when you are involved with what you read, you will better understand, remember, and engage with texts.


Here are some suggestions for annotating, or glossing, a text:

Write notes in the margin or at the top or bottom of the page. For example, jot main ideas, key summary words or phrases next to their respective paragraphs.

Circle or underline key words or phrases.

Use stars or asterisks in the margins to emphasize the most important ideas.

Pose questions in the margins to express your difference of opinion about the author's message, or put a question mark next to anything you don't understand (what teachers mean when they ask, "Any questions about last night's reading?")

Use a personal symbol (!, Yes!, Right!) next to anything that seems on target to you.

Write notes or questions on large Post-Its / sticky notes and use them to mark important pages of the text. (Great for library books or for books you want to sell back at the end of the semester.)