Annotating books: why and how I annotate

Annotating books: why and how I annotate

6 July 2018 10 By fleur-talks

Hello everyone! Today I want to talk to you about annotating books. Before you all run away because I am writing in books (I know, how horrifying) I want to tell you that there is nothing wrong with not writing in books or with writing in books. Everyone should do what they are comfortable with, and for me that most definitely is writing in books.

So, recently I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how I annotate and what system I use for using my tabs (or sticky notes) and what I highlight in my books. So in this post, I will tell you what products I use to annotate and what kind of ‘system’ I use.

Using Sticky Notes

So, before I really started annotating (the actual highlighting and writing in my books), I tried out using sticky notes. I watched some YouTube videos on annotating and I created a system I thought would fit me.  I use five colours of stick notes.


I use orange tabs for parts in a book I do not want to forget, but don’t fall under any other category. Sometimes that’s banter between characters or descriptions of scenery in the book.


I use pink tabs for character development. Either individual development (for example a character changes their behaviour because their opinion changed) or development between characters, be it friendly or romantic. For example, I’ll put a tab on a page when former enemies/not friends say something nice to each other and mean it. For me, this points to development in the personality of a character.


I use yellow tabs to point out the storyline/plot. So when something happens in a book that I feel will influence the plot line of the story, I’ll put a tab by the passage. Let’s say the characters in your book are on a road trip to New York, but suddenly they hit a major obstacle which might mean they will not make it to NewYork in time. Consider this page tabbed with a yellow sticky note!


The green tabs I use for scenes I adore. For me, this scene will either have made me smile (a loy), laugh or cry from the feelings I got while reading this part in the book. Let’s say you’ve been reading a book series in which the two main characters got separated, and you just read about their reunion. It’s probably guaranteed that you either smiled a lot while reading that passage or maybe even cried (I probably would). That’s mostly what makes me put a green sticky note on a page.


I use blue tabs for quotes. So when a character says something I find inspirational or motivating, I’ll put a blue tab next to it.


I got many questions on how I decide what I want to highlight in a book, and what I don’t want to highlight. And frankly? I don’t consciously decide on what I want to highlight. I highlight parts of a book that I like, that make me smile, that make me angry, that make me cringe and so on. Personally, I think this is something that everyone needs to figure out on their own.

Sure I could tell you what parts to highlight, but the important part about annotating is that it is about making a book feel more personal. Which ultimately means, that you need to decide for yourself what you like to highlight in a book, and which passages or sentences you want to leave unmarked.

Products I use

I’ve been trying out some different products in the last six months that I wanted to use for annotating, and these are the ones I still use today.


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I love using the Stabilo Swing Cool markers because they don’t bleed through the pages of most books. I do encourage you to try a marker on the last page of a book to test how it looks. This way you know if it will bleed through the page or not.

I also use a basic pencil to write down my thoughts or feelings in the marges.

I use the big post-it notes for when I have so many thoughts or feelings, I can’t possibly write everything in the marges. So, I will write my thoughts down on the post-it and I will stick it to the page.

This is basiclly everything I do while annotating a book. I hope you enjoyed this post, please let me know in the comments if you want me to write more posts on annotating!


All the love,