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In the main lesson, you learned why making annotations as you read is a useful way to understand a text.

You also learned the steps for annotating a piece of nonfiction.

In this extension, you will annotate a piece of literature.

Annotating literature is different from annotating nonfiction because the main idea is often expressed by the characters, plot, or setting, instead of directly stated and proven by the author.

Some examples of literature you could annotate include short stories, poems, plays, or novels.

To begin, copy a short piece of text, or a passage from a longer piece, to annotate.

Paste it into a new document, or make a copy of one of the starter projects linked on this page.

First, highlight important characters.

An important character is usually described in details or contributes to the action of the story.

Include unnamed characters and first-person narrators as well.

A first person narrator is someone who uses words like I and me to tell the story.

Create an annotation key, and add characters.

Next, highlight elements that contribute to the setting.

The setting is the location of the story, like a city or a haunted house, as well as the time, such as a year in the past or a season.

Some details about the setting may not be obvious.

Use the Explore tool to look up place names you’re unsure about.

Add research, questions, or notes to your document in a comment.

Next, underline figurative language.

Figurative language uses words differently from the common, literal meaning to make something sound more interesting or provide a visual.

It includes metaphors, similes, allusions, and personification.

Then, add more annotations.

Bold passages related to the theme, or the central idea of the story...

And choose more colors to highlight examples of the tone and mood.

The tone is the way the author feels about the subject.

The mood is the way the reader is made to feel.

Tone and mood are ways to understand the characters’ personalities, their motivation, and the general feeling of the story.

Determine the tone and mood by looking at words the author chooses, the way the surroundings are described, and the characters’ perceptions of what’s happening in the story.

Include additional annotations, such as a list of unfamiliar words and their definitions, if you’d like.

Finally, update your annotation key.

Great work!

Now that you’ve annotated your piece of literature, you’re better prepared for class discussion, writing an essay, or taking a test.

Now, it’s your turn: Make a copy of a starter project, and update the title with your name.

Annotate characters, setting, figurative language, theme, tone, mood, and definitions.

And create an annotation key.

Choose an Extension
Identify the Thesis
Students find and annotate the main idea in a piece of writing in Google Docs.
Annotate a Literary Piece
Students use Google Docs tools to make notes in a fiction piece.
Annotate a Scholarly Article
Students make digital notes in a scholarly article to find evidence for a research paper or class discussion.
Create a Reading Response Journal
Students create a dialectical journal, or reading response journal, on a fiction piece to prepare for an assignment or class discussion.
Annotate Using a Prompt
Students make digital notes in a piece of writing in Google Docs based on a prompt for an assignment or paper.
Annotate Using Footnotes
Students add footnotes in Google Docs to document sources and add information.
See more extensions
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