Active reading is an important college skill that will allow you to delve deeper into your course material and help you understand and remember key concepts and ideas more deeply.  Annotation of course readings is an important practice for active readers.   Below are some tips to help you get started with annotating your reading and actively engage in the reading of course material.

What/How to Annotate: 

General Tip: Use a pen, pencil, post-it notes, or a highlighter (although use it sparingly!).  You want key ideas to stand out!

  • *Summarize important ideas in your own words.
  • *Add examples from real life, other books, TV, movies, and so forth. *Define words that are new to you.
  • *Mark passages that you find confusing with a ???
  • *Write questions that you might have for later discussion in class.
  • *Comment on the actions or development of characters.
  • *Comment on things that intrigue, impress, surprise, disturb, etc.
  • *Note how the author uses language. A list of possible literary devices is attached.
  • *Feel free to draw picture when a visual connection is appropriate
  • *Explain the historical context or traditions/social customs used in the passage

Methods for Annotation:

General Tip: Try to be consistent in your methods so you can easily see why something is marked the way it is.  For example, maybe your yellow highlighter is always used to highlight key concepts, while your green highlighter indicate key social actors.

  • *If you are a person who does not like to write in a book, you may want to invest in a supply of post it notes.
  • *If you feel really creative, or are just super organized, you can even color code your annotations by using different color post-its, highlighters, or pens.
  • *Brackets: If several lines seem important, just draw a line down the margin and underline/highlight only the key phrases.
  • *Asterisks: Place and asterisk next to an important passage; use two if it is really important.
  • *Marginal Notes: Use the space in the margins to make comments, define words, ask questions, etc.
  • *Underline/highlight: Caution! Do not underline or highlight too much! You want to concentrate on the important elements, not entire pages (use brackets for that).
  • *Use circles, boxes, triangles, squiggly lines, stars, etc.

Source: http://www.dsisd.txed.net/DocumentCenter/Home/View/14072

An additional resource:  http://eriemason.k12.mi.us/pdf/Bryant_Annotation_Tips_2010.pdf


Purdue Owl Writing Lab is an important resource when it comes time to cite a text.  The lab offer instructions and examples for in-text and reference-list citations in 3 different citation formats: MLA, APA and Chicago.

Queens College Writing Center is another important writing resources for Queens College students.  The QC Writing Center offers a number of different services for students including weekly standing sessions, scheduled drop-in appointments, non-scheduled walk-in appointments and online tutoring.  For more, visit their website.


If you are a student who really enjoys learning about contemporary urban issues and would like to join a group of students who convene to discuss urban issues outside of class as well as host events such as film screenings and lectures, then consider joining the Urban Studies Club!  For more information, visit their website.


If you do not have a gmail account, you will need to claim your QC GDrive. Without this you will not be able to access the contact form or the assignment submission form.

See instructions provided by QC’s Center for Teaching and Learning for more information on setting up this account – it take 5 minutes – I PROMISE!


The New York Times – for National, Regional and NYC news

The Guardian – for Global and National news

The Washington Post – for National and Regional news

The Atlantic – for news analysis and social critiques of National and Regional issues

CityLab. from the Atlantic – for news analysis and social critique of urban issues, developments and innovative ideas

The Nation – for news analysis and social critiques of National and Regional issues

DNAinfo.com – for NYC-based news (can filter by borough), highlights issues at the neighborhood level

Queens Chronicle – for Queens-based news, highlights issues at the neighborhood level

Gothamist – for local/NYC-based news