Close Reading


Whether you are studying for an exam, conducting research for an essay, or simply just reading for pleasure, close reading can help you to better understand any text better. For many students, the texts you work with can be lengthy, dense, and intimidating. To help you better navigate these texts, we’ve included two different, close reading strategies, a sample document, and some elaboration on what is happening in the text.

Close Reading Strategies Example


When you annotate, you write down notes, definitions, questions, and ideas that strike you as you read. Some people annotate by writing on the text itself or on a photocopy of the text; others write their ideas on a separate document. Regardless of what strategy you use, take notes in a way that will help you later.

Highlighting and Categorizing

When you highlight, you are drawing attention to the important and essential information. Again, people decide what to highlight differently. Some people highlight key words; others highlight entire passages. Highlighting can also be the first step towards categorizing the information you read. Using different colors to represent different chunks of information can make reviewing your document much easier, especially if you are a visual learner.

Sample Document

In the sample above, the reader annotates each section, first by noting the meter Robert Frost uses. The reader then labels the rhyme scheme both by writing out the ABAAB letters next to each line and again by designating a different color to each. As the reader progresses, he writes important questions in the margins in an attempt to identify what exactly is taking place in the poem. The student then ends with commentary on the poem as whole. Should the student have to come back to this poem later in the semester, these notes will allow him to more quickly recall his observations.



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