I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love using highlighters when I study. There is just something about putting neon ink on a page that makes me all happy inside. Maybe I’m just getting high off the Sharpie highlighters I like to use, but I think that most people enjoy using highlighters as they study for their classes in college.
If you want to get the most out of every study session you have, you need to know how to properly use highlighters as you read. There is no “right” way to go about this, but there is a method that I have found to be highly effective. The tips below will show you how I have learned to use highlighters over the years. Hopefully, you can use some of them to study more effectively in the future.
Color Code the Highlighting
In order to know which parts of a book you need to refer to at a certain time, you may want to use different colors of highlighters to represent different subjects. For instance, let’s say that you want to highlight quotes in a book to use later in an essay. You may give each character of the book a different color, and then you can easily know which quotes you are looking for when you go back to the book.
I did this when I read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver because the book is written from the perspective of five different characters. Without the color coding system, I don’t think I would have ever known what was going on when I went back for quotes.
If you decide to color code like this, you may also think about getting book flags to represent the various colors you are using. Then you will be able to see the quote area from the outside so you can get to it quickly. If you organize your highlighting like you would anything else, you may be able to put it to good use.
Highlight Words, Not Sentences
This is a method that an old English teacher of mine used, and I thought it was pretty helpful in the long run. Rather than highlighting full sentences in a book, just highlight the words that matter the most. Let me show you what I mean with the paragraph I just wrote above:
“If you decide to color code like this, you may also think about getting book flags to represent the various colors you are using. Then you will be able to see the quote area from the outside so you can get to it quickly. If you organize your highlighting like you would anything else, you may be able to put it to good use.”
As you can see, I only highlighted the words that I thought captured the overall purpose of the paragraph. If you do this while you read, you will be able to remember keywords while you study.
Remember Less Is More
When it comes to highlighting something, you have to be careful not to get carried away. If you highlight full paragraphs in a book, you are never going to know what you do and do not want to read. It is better to highlight a little bit of information than it is to highlight everything you read. You have to emphasize the key points that you want to remember later on. If you want to doodle all over the place, do so in a book you don’t need to reference later. That way you leave the study material clean and ready to go.