How I annotate my books

Hey there! Today I’m bringing you a much requested post. Over on my Instagram  I have posted pictures of some of my annotated books and I always get people asking me how and why I annotate.

• WHY •

Annotating is honestly such a calming and fun experience. I love rereading a book I had annotated and being able to see my exact feelings when I read it the first time! It brings back all my excitement and feels!

Gifting an annotated copy of your favourite book should be a thing guys. I’m currently reading a copy of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen that my sister gave me (though I’m not sure if she’s the one who annotated it) and I’m having the best time!

I don’t annotate every book I read. I reserve this practice for books I know I’m going to adore and perhaps reread in the future. Sometimes I read about 50 pages into a book before I realise it’s one that I want to annotate.

Annotating also helps me with writing my reviews as I can easily reflect back on my thoughts and scenes that stuck out to me.

• HOW •

There are a variety of ways to annotate. From using sticky tabs or sticky notes, underlining with a pen or pencil, highlighting or writing in the margins.

I’m going to go through the ones I prefer and how I do it.

Sticky Tabs

Sticky tabs are the most fun and they look great once you’re done. I have a key where each colour is for a different thing.

Blue – action or surprising scene
Green – funny scene or funny quote
Yellow – important information
Pink – a scene I really loved
Orange – foreshadowing
Light blue – sad scene
Light pink – annoying part or something that made me mad
Purple – quote

I make sure to write my colour key down on a sticky note at the back of my book for reference. Sometimes I abandon my key and stick any colour anywhere, it depends on how much I’m enjoying a book.


I underline with a pen that does not bleed through the page. I used to highlight, but I find this works best for me.

What do I underline? Awesome quotes, foreshadowing, important information, funny scenes. The sticky tabs direct you to the page but underlining points out the reason.

Sometimes I’m reading too fast to pause and grab a sticky tab so I have my pen in my hand to underline quickly and move on. I can always go back and add the appropriately coloured sticky tab afterwards.

Writing in the margins

This is really the best to look back on. With the same pen I use to underline, I write down my reactions to certain scenes, or even questions I might have.

Sticky notes

This helps the most with writing my reviews. Every 50 or 100 pages (approximately) I look for an ending chapter and stick a note on the page. On that note I’ll write down my thoughts, questions, theories and anything else that sticks out to me about the last 50/100 pages I’ve just read.

My advice for beginners.

If annotating is something you’ve been meaning to try I suggest picking a book you know you’re going to love or even a favourite book for a reread (this is what I did my first time) and giving it a go. Try multiple techniques and see what works for you. It’s a trial and error process and you’ll soon figure out what you prefer!

Final thoughts

I know for some the idea of writing in your book is horrifying. And I completely get that! As book lovers we try to take care of our books to the best of our abilities. I used to also shudder at the thought of defiling my books as I sometimes do now. But you know what? These are MY books and I want my favourite ones to be filled with MY thoughts.

Did this post help? Are you thinking of annotating your books?! Let me know!!


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