Annotating – On the Screen vs The Paper Text

Annotating on the computer screen and annotating on the paper text definitely have their advantages. When I annotate on the computer screen, I primarily use Microsoft OneNote. What I like about using OneNote to annotate is that I have more room to make comments next to the line I am commenting on; as a result, it’s easier to figure out which part of the essay belongs to which annotation. I also have other tools to help me read the text and annotate better, such as the “Zoom” and “Insert Space” tools. As someone who can’t focus on tiny text in books, I really benefit from these tools.

Annotating on the paper text also has its advantages. I tend to become extremely distracted while taking notes online after a certain period of time (maybe after an hour or so), so annotating on the actual text forces me to focus on what it says and to figure out the meaning more so than annotating an online text would do. Even with this difference, I tend to be more lax when it comes to annotating something in a book; I feel that text on paper has more of a permanence to it than text online, so when I annotate in a book, I feel more restricted in my commenting than when I annotate online. Texts that are online – even if they originally came from a book – give a sense of permeability to them; that is, the text invites conversation. Texts in books also invite conversation, but I feel that since they’re bound by paper and a book spine, there is little room for dialogue.


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