Diary of a Bookworm: Learn to annotate books aesthetically, mistake free

Translucent sticky notes, erasable pens and highlighters

Illustration by Mercy Sosa. Graphic created in Canva.

Mercy Sosa

Illustration by Mercy Sosa. Graphic created in Canva.

Julie Blunt

Dear diary, for someone like me who struggles with comprehension skills and gets distracted easily, annotating and marking up my books can help me understand what I’m reading. 

However, I almost always hate writing in my books.

Book annotations range from underlining favorite quotes to using tabs to bookmark important plot points and writing snarky or sarcastic comments on the side of the page. 

For people who don’t like their handwriting and want aesthetic looking book annotations, using sticky tabs can make for easy and mess free annotations. 

If you’re someone who doesn’t care about what your handwriting looks like but doesn’t want to write on the pages, use translucent sticky notes.

Use erasable pens and highlighters if you don’t mind writing on the pages but want to be able to get rid of unaesthetic mistakes. 

For me, my annotations change depending on the book I’m reading and the mood I’m in. 

Color coded sticky tabs $6.99

The main purpose of colorful sticky tabs is to quickly mark different things I find important in a book. Each color represents a feeling the character or the reader is feeling, or a major plot point worth coming back to in the future. 

I use basic colors but in both bolds and pastels, each with a specific meaning: 

  • Red is anger
  • Green is happiness
  • Pink is romance
  • Blue is sadness
  • Purple is plot twists
  • Grey is other important notes

There are hundreds of different color tabs ranging from pastels to multiple shade ranges of one color. Other bookworms enjoy matching the colors of their tabs to match the colors of the cover of the book. 

For example, the reader could use multiple shades of blue if the cover of the book is mainly blue, including some grays and black, designating each color to what they want to mark. 

Transparent sticky notes $7.97

I’m a bookworm who hates writing in books but always wants to underline and add comments to what I’m reading. But, I found a loophole.

Transparent sticky notes. 

Highlighting or underlining moments or quotes in a book can be intimidating, considering you can’t take it back once it’s done. But, transparent sticky notes make it easy to get rid of mistakes when underlining or if you decide you don’t like the annotation after a while, you can take it off. 

There are a few downsides with using transparent sticky notes.

Their texture smudges ink and depending on the book size, they might not fit evenly along the book’s writing. But, using a fine-tip sharpie and finding multiple-size sticky notes solves both problems. 

PILOT FriXion erasable pens $14.99 / PILOT FriXion erasable highlighters $14.48

Using a fine-tip sharpie while annotating is good for translucent sticky notes. However, the PILOT FriXion erasable pens also work on translucent sticky notes and are my favorite pens to use while annotating.

If you enjoy writing on the pages without the sticky notes, I recommend using an erasable pen or highlighter in case you’re picky like me and want clean lines and smooth highlights. 

The highlighters can work the same way as the sticky tabs, associating certain colors with certain feelings or plot points. Or, they can be used like regular highlighters, using one color to highlight throughout the entire novel. 

The only issue with highlighting while using translucent sticky notes is that the ink will rub off. But this is where sticky tabs and underlines can come in — replacing highlights. 

Substitute highlighters that would be great for on-paper annotations are the Mildliner double-ended highlighters, which can cost around $12. There are more shades and they are double-sided with both a bold tip and a fine tip. They’re not erasable, but they’re really aesthetically pleasing.  

While these are just a few recommendations for starting annotations, I recommend every bookworm takes a deeper dive into the world of annotating and tries utilizing at least one of the techniques listed in this diary entry. 

Sincerely, a bookworm.