Effectively Marking Your Text
By Julia McDonald
Underlining or highlighting is a very common study technique used by university students. The purpose of underlining/highlighting parts of a text is to make an item stand out and to reduce the amount of material to be remembered. Unfortunately, many students make the mistake of underlining/highlighting too much, resulting in a cluttered and colourful textbook page. When they go to review, they have to reread almost the whole text. What a time waster!
Here are a few tips on how to effectively mark your text:
- Read the complete section or paragraph first.
- Review the section, underlining / highlighting key words or phrases.
- Don't underline/highlight, too much or too little. Approximately one-third of the paragraph should be enough to highlight the important points.
- Use the margins to jot down paraphrases and summaries of long sentences. Circle words you do not understand, form classifications, use notes like "re-read" or "good test items." Develop a system of margin notations, like the examples below:
*/NB = main or important parts
+ = support material
def = definition
? = unclear point, consult
1,2,3 = items in a list
= causal relationships
= increase, decrease
- Take notes on the sections you have underlined/highlighted.
- Review often.
Adapted from Strategies for College Success by Mary C. Stark