Annotating for Beginners by a Beginner

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Annotating is something I didn’t know about until I joined the online book community. (BookTok and Bookstagram)

I kept seeing all these posts of books with a billion colorful tabs sticking out of the pages, and I loved how that looked, but I wasn’t sure what the purpose was. At this point, I wasn’t even really highlighting things in my Kindle books unless it said that a certain amount of people already did. #iykyk

Get my zipper pouch HERE

Shop my annotating supplies here I have and use those highlighters but I am not a huge fan.

What is annotating?



Learn to pronounce


gerund or present participle: annotating

  1. add notes to (a text or diagram) giving explanation or comment.” documentation should be annotated with explanatory notes”

There is the dictionary’s definition of annotating.

Stephanie’s Definition:

Annotate: to mark, underline, make note of, or highlight parts of a book that made you feel something. (EI: lust, joy, anger, etc.)

I was so overwhelmed at first, and now looking back, I’m not sure why because there is no wrong way to annotate your own books. You can draw in them, highlight them, write in the margins, and tab the shit out of the pages. You can do whatever you want to your book and no one can stop you, bestie.

I’ve tabbed 3 books now, so here is what I’ve learned so far.

Annotating Inspo Board

Browse Pinterest for Inspiration

When in doubt, Pinterest it out. These are my words to live by. I love Pinterest so much and, to this day, am still shocked when someone mentions they don’t use it. I get everything from book recs to my dinner recipes off of this app. It’s my lifeline. Truly.

One of the things I did when doing my research on annotation is going to Pinterest and check out what people have uploaded. My board above is some pins that I loved and saved to my annotation board or my favorite search is “Annotated Book Aesthetic”.

I am a visual learner, needing to see something in order to fully grasp what’s going on, so being able to see examples of what others have done to their own books was beneficial for me.

Buy some fun supplies

Okay, so I know this is often seen as shallow, but things make me happy. Gifts is one of my love languages (along with acts of service) so the act of getting myself a little something is always thrilling to me.

Here is a fun site I found that has specific book tab sets

I was super nervous about what to buy for my books and read so many reviews on Amazon. Ultimately, I am fairly happy with my choices, but I do not like the highlighters. They are a gel highlighter, and while they do not bleed through the page, I just don’t like how it looks. I’ll post an example below. It’s a very waxy, crayon-like, consistency, and while I’m sure some people love that, I want something more aesthetically pleasing eventually.

It’s waxy, it’s not crisp. It’s just not what I was hoping for in an annotation highlighter

My tabs are also great and I have no complaints. I will also be looking into getting more aesthetically pleasing colors next time I need to order, though.

Figure out your annotation key

Save the image to print out for your own annotation key

This is just deciding what color you want to use for certain things. Some suggestions could be red for anger, pink for romance, green for funny moments, blue for crying, etc.

You can choose whatever you want each color to mean OR you don’t even have to do this step. You can just tab your pages however you want so that it’s aesthetically pleasing. I’ve seen several TikToks where readers use an aesthetic color palate for their annotating but don’t designate a color to mean anything, so this way when their book is shut, there is a particular aesthetic to it.

Again, there is no right or wrong way to annotate your own books. There is, once again, so many great visuals and ideas available on Pinterest.

When I wanted to start annotating my Zodiac Academy reread, I headed to Etsy, which is another one of my favorite online resources, and searched for annotating in the search bar. There are so many great resources available from the small shops on Etsy, from bookmarks to starter kits, you will be able to find something to help get you started if that’s the route you’re looking to take.

This is the bookmark I purchased for my ZA reread and I love it so much!

To write in your book or to not write in your book?

That is the question. A lot of people don’t want to write in their books, which if you’re not planning on keeping the book forever, makes total and perfect sense. Or maybe simply writing in the book makes you nervous. Whatever your reason for not wanting to write in your book is, you totally do not have to do it.

If writing in your book gives you cringes, there are clear post-it notes that you can write your annotations instead of in the book itself, and you can just stick your tabs in the book to mark spots. From my experience, the tabs do not damage the pages at all and I have been able to remove them very easily every time.

Are you going to give annotating a try?

I’m excited for you! Annotating my books definitely elevates the reading experience, in my opinion. I’ve really been loving annotating my Zodiac Academy reread.

What book are you going to annotate first? Comment below and let me know.

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