How I Annotate Books

If you’re new to annotating, you might be wondering how it works. How do readers annotate? What do they decide to annotate? What are the different methods of annotating?

So first of all, I want to state, everyone is different. Everyone annotates differently, decides what to annotate differently. Everyone reads differently, period.

This post is focused on the way I specifically annotate and what I decide to annotate. My method is still a work in progress, and it changes from time to time. It also changes based on genres.

I first decided to annotate fantasy books (my favorite genre) to keep track of all the many characters, the world building, the small details I might overlook when I’m speed reading, questions I may have throughout the book. I use color tabs (with each color representing something different) to mark what line I’m referring to on a specific page. (The tabs I usually get I purchase from Amazon, but colored tabs can be found at any office supply store or dollar generals.)

The colors and what they mark are as follows:

Yellow: Characters and their descriptions

Light Purple: world building

Dark Purple: Important History or details

Blue: Questions I may have (usually I’ll add a large post it note with my question next to this tab) or things I feel are foreshadowing

Red: Answers to the questions I had or plot points that are important, plot twists, anything having to do with the plot of the book

Orange: Scenes that are problematic, ‘hard to swallow’, anything I might not like

Green: Something I find interesting (usually it’s something that might be important but I’m not sure about so I mark it as interesting instead/ or something I find amusing but not sure how it’ll play out, my thought process here is ‘huh, that’s interesting’)

Pink: Things I like, Scenes I love, things that made me smile all cheesy, or quotes I want to add to my reviews/mean something to me

If I tab something and would like to elaborate on what I’m referring to then usually I’ll add a large post it note next to the tab and write down what I was thinking at the time. This is super helpful for rereads because most of the time I want to see how my thoughts on a specific book differ over time. I don’t like to mark my books so it’s easier for me to use post its.

So that’s usually for fantasy, sci-fi basically any genre that would have world building and excessive characters.

For contemporary or ‘real world’ books, I usually use one color. They’re pretty straight forward books so typically I use a one color tab throughout the book to mark quotes or things I can relate to. There isn’t an influx of characters or things happening that I feel a need to mark so much.

I don’t read many genres so this is the two ways I annotate. It’s a style that suits me and helps me keep track of what I’m reading and helps me remember what I want to detail in my reviews. If you’d like to see different methods, many booktubers have videos detailing their way of annotating as well! Some of my favorites:


Brittany the Bibliophile:


There are many more, but these are the ones that have helped construct my own method.

2 thoughts on “How I Annotate Books

  1. I don’t annotate books, but it’s always fascinating to learn more about how others read! I can see how annotating can be helpful to collect your thoughts and ideas on what you have read, thank you for sharing!


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