Non-Fiction Annotation:
Strategies for Success!
-Adapted from Chris Buczinsky
1. The Main Idea
 For each section of your reading, underline or
highlight the MAIN IDEA.
 Usually, the main idea will be stated near the
beginning or the end of the section.
Sometimes, it will be stated in both places.
 The MAIN IDEA may also be implied, in which
case, you should make a note of it.
 Next to the MAIN IDEA, write MI.
2. Lead Words
 For each paragraph, underline or highlight 24 LEAD WORDS.
 LEAD WORDS are usually nouns, and they
will be the topics of the important supporting
 By highlighting these words, you give your
eyes an easy way to locate the main
supporting points the writer makes.
3. Transition Words
 If you see TRANSITION WORDS, draw
a box around them.
 TRANSITION WORDS often signal an
important change in the argument, or
they indicate an important conclusion.
4. Vocabulary
 Circle difficult VOCABULARY, words, or
allusions, even if you think you know
 If you are unsure of the meaning of
these words or allusions, Google them,
and in the margin write a note to
yourself about their meaning.
5. Notes
 After reading each paragraph, scribble a
quick note or word in the margin to
remind yourself about the focus of the
 Sometimes you can get away with
doing this for two paragraphs together.
6. So What?
 When you are done with the article or
chapter, write one or two sentences
describing the article’s reason for being.
 This is the “So what?” or the “Big Picture.”
 Ask yourself, why did the authors bother to
write this? What effect do they hope to have
on the reader? Why does this matter?
 Write one or two sentences answering these
Mnemonic Devices To Try
1. My Last Teeth Veered North. So?
2. My Lucky Turtle Vomited Nuts. So?
3. Milt Van So