2. Identify Unfamiliar Words and Concepts

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Annotating helps you understand information in all types of text.

When you understand what you read, it’s easier to write a response for an assignment, use your reading as supporting research for a paper, or participate in a class discussion.

The first step of annotating is to clarify meaning, so you are sure you understand what the author is writing about.

One way to do this is by defining words and terms you don’t know.

In this video, you will start your annotations by highlighting unfamiliar terms or terms with multiple definitions and looking up their definitions.

Defining terms is a way to think about why the writer used those particular words in their writing.

This helps you understand the meaning and purpose of the author’s work.

First, add your name to your annotation document.

Read the first paragraph of the article.

As you read, highlight any words you don’t know or that the author uses in an unfamiliar way.

To highlight a word, select it by clicking on it twice, then choose any color from the highlight menu.

Read the rest of the article and highlight at least five words, all in the same color.

Next, create a key to help you remember what the highlight color represents.

Add two paragraph breaks at the top of the page.

Type "Annotation Key, then type the word definitions underneath.

Remove the special text formatting by selecting the text and changing the style to Normal text.

Then, highlight the word definitions in the color you chose.

Next, insert a table to record the definitions of the words you highlighted.

Place your cursor at the end of the word definitions and insert a table with two columns.

Copy the first word you highlighted and paste it in the left column.

Press the tab key twice to add a new row.

Copy the rest of the words and paste them into separate rows.

Now, look up the definitions for the words you highlighted.

Click on one of the words, then select the Dictionary tool.

Or, select the word, right click your mouse, and define the word.

Copy the definition and add it to your table.

Repeat this for the rest of the words.

Resize the table columns if you’d like.

Next, continue to annotate by highlighting sections you don’t understand or don’t agree with.

Identifying your reactions helps you think about what you read and connect it to your own experience or knowledge.

Your annotations will be useful for participating in discussions or completing written assignments about what you read.

Read through your article again and highlight at least two phrases or sentences that you find confusing or that you disagree with.

Use a different color from the one used for definitions.

Then, add this category to your annotation key.

Once you have finished highlighting terms and concepts and added your annotation key, move on to the next video.


  1. Read through the article, and highlight at least five words you don’t know.
  2. Add an annotation key and table to the top of the page.
  3. Copy and paste words into your key and use the Dictionary tool to look up and copy the definition of each word.
  4. If there are any parts you don’t understand or find confusing, highlight them in a different color, and add this category to your annotation key.