On Annotation

Recently, I have taken the time to reflect on annotation. I annotate a lot. Generally, it follows predictable patterns: red ink means I have written it on my own time, blue ink means I heard it from a teacher or classmate. I annotate more on informational writing than on fictional works, and more when reading on a computer than not. Obviously, I will still write in books, but as someone with notoriously bad handwriting who hated having to fit long rants in tiny margins, using computers to annotate is amazing. The note is always readable, and on some programs, I can leave notes in a separate comments section, so it doesn’t clutter the page.

Although I understand how I annotate, what I don’t understand is why.┬áIt’s certainly not for anyone else to read; I get embarrassed when others read my annotations because they are often informal and about my personal views (I almost included a picture with this post of my annotations but felt too self-conscious and removed it). I often do it to help in my understanding of a work and to prove to myself that I am paying attention as I read; when I cannot annotate, I feel I absorb less of what I am reading.

But even that seems too official a reason for my annotation. What I write isn’t always intelligent. It’s often just inane commentary. Maybe I do it to entertain myself, like doodling. Either way, I know annotation is important to my reading process, and I’m grateful for the digitization of media for making it easier to annotate.

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