How to Notate a Book
When skimming a book, you are looking for answers to the questions of what kind of book is it? what is it about? what is the structure of the book? Make note of the answers to these questions on the contents page or possibly the title page.
When you go back and re-read the book (if you believe it is worth re-reading), here are some suggestions for note-making:I make no apologies for reposting the article referred to in the first chapter Skimming a Book which is also a useful reference.
After you’ve finished reading the book, if you decide to move on and compare that book to others you are reading, then you probably will need to make those notes on separate paper.
- Underline or circle major points and important or forceful statements.
- Use vertical lines at the margin to emphasize something you’ve already underlined or to mark a passage too long to be underlined.
- Use a star, asterisk, or other doodle at the margin to emphasize the 10-12 most important passages in the book. If you either bookmark the page or fold down the corner of the page where you’ve made the mark, you’ll be able to take the book off the shelf and flip right to it.
- Write numbers in the margin to show a sequence of points in the author’s argument.
- Write the numbers of other pages in the margin to show elsewhere in the book the author makes the same points or places he contradicts himself.
- Write your thoughts in the margins: questions, answers; a summary of what the author is saying; the sequence of major points in the book.
- Use the endpapers at the back to make an index of the author’s points in order of appearance.
- When you’ve finished reading the book and making your index on the back endpapers, then outline the book’s structure in the front endpapers.
–adapted from How to Read a Book