photo of someone highlighting a book

How to Annotate a Book

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Annotating books is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I have commitment issues, so I am also going to show you how to annotate books without actually writing in them and damaging them!

I think that when it comes to book annotation, a lot of us think that it’s only for serious studying of the book. But, you can do this in the books for fun! There’s nothing better than opening up your favorite book and seeing your reactions of when you read through it for the very first time.

What Does Annotating Books Mean?

Annotating books is all about adding your own little thought and notes to a book to elevate your reading experience and boost your reading comprehension. Sometimes, you even start highlighting things you think may be foreshadowing or also some of your favorite quotes that you think are memorable.

Do You Need a Physical Book to Annotate?

Short answer, no! A lot of e-readers such as kindles allow for highlighting and note-taking now!

Book Annotation Supplies for Actively Writing in Your Book

Let’s market it up! This is the classic annotation method for anyone who doesn’t mind writing directly into their book.

Pen or Pencils

I usually lean towards a nice black pen or a pencil. But, I’ve got some options that I think will suit everyone nicely.


While there are a lot of different types of highlighters, these Stabilo Boss Highlighters are my absolute favorite. I find that the highlight colors are incredibly important because if they’re too dark it becomes super difficult to see the words.


If you want your lines to be perfectly straight, you’re going to need a good ruler.

Book Annotation Supplies for Not Writing in Your Book

Let’s build a book annotation kit together, shall we? I think the thing I like best about this is that it feels like a little craft project.

Transparent Sticky Notes

The best part of transparent sticky notes is that they feel almost seamless and you can read all the text around them without ruining your beautiful book.

Colorful See-Through Sticky Notes

If you’re following a color key, these colorful see-through sticky notes are going to be perfect. When you are doing this type of book annotation, it can be helpful to store a book annotation key either in the book itself or have it on your phone while you are getting used to your annotations.

Highlighter Strips

I love the idea of these super cute highlighter strips! The best part to me is that they aren’t going to smear or bleed through and of course that I can always take them out when I need to.

Whether you decided to write in your book or use more of a sticky note method, you’re going to need a pouch to store everything. These are a few from my store.

includes three zipper bouches with designs on a background, on says book worm, with worm scrated out and replaces by dragon in red, one is a kawaii picture of cthulu with the text "poor cthulhu" one says I like to bread in five pastel colors.

Book Annotation Color Key

While you can really go off of whatever you like best or whatever works for you, here are a few ideas for color codes to get you started.

  • Pink – Romantic or spicy moments
  • Red – Moments that make you angry
  • Blue – Important world building
  • Green – Characters (character development, character introductions, and formulating on character motives)
  • Blue – Sad moments
  • Yellow – Favorite quotes or meaningful quotes

Annotating color keys also look super different depending on the genre of book you’re reading, so if you’re reading a fantasy book, you may want to include world-building, whereas if you’re annotating non-fiction books, you may want to change that color to something else.

Reading Journals

If you want to work your way up to writing in your actual books, book journals are also a great resource!

There are some great options for reading journals, such as this hardcover one by Kunitsa Co. which includes a variety of different pages and worksheets to go through.

If you’re more of a spiral-bound person, this is also a great option for book lovers!

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