Here's a Few Creative Ways to Annotate a Book With Tabs — Don't Forget Your Favorite Lines!


Apr. 26 2023, Published 3:15 p.m. ET

Whether you had to learn to annotate for school or read a line in a book that hits right, annotation is one of the best tools a book lover can keep in their back pocket. There is no right way to annotate, so while some prefer to highlight or pen themselves notes in the margins, others prefer to insert multicolored tabs to keep track of their thoughts.

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If you've ever spent time on BookTok, you'll know that "tabbing" has become exceedingly popular on the platform. Here are our best tips and tricks for how to annotate a book with tabs.

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Here are our best tips and tricks for how to annotate your book with tabs.

It must be said that there is no one correct way to tab your books. Some people's tabs are deeply personal to them, but ultimately, the point of tabbing is to help you engage more deeply with the reading material. Whether you're marking tabs for the romance scenes, to highlight foreshadowing, or just your favorite quotes, the most important rule of tabbing is to make it meaningful to you, the reader.

Develop a code system for your tabs.

The biggest step in your tab annotation process is to create a code so you know what the tabs mean! Some common examples of color-coding tabs include: Pink for romance or romantic moments, orange for things the reader dislikes, yellow or green for funny moments, blue for sadness and purple for questions or important passages to remember later. User @mina.undercovera shows off her tab system with Colleen Hoover's It Ends With Us.

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Color code the tabs to your book cover.

Users like @nareenreads on TikTok elevate their annotations by color-coding their tabs to match the colors of the books they're reading, like she does with The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang! While not a requirement, it certainly is aesthetically pleasing when everything matches. The most important step is developing a code system, so you remember what each color means later as you're flipping through the book.

Use the tabs to mark important quotes or scenes.

As user @bumblebeezus could tell you, sometimes the best way to keep track of the plot or discussions the book is having is to tab the most devastating scenes or quotes. In her example, she uses Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo to illustrate how much a book can wreck you (and here at Distractify, we have to agree).

Keep track of world building with your tabs.

User @edenreidreads explains how she uses tabs. For contemporary or romance novels, she explains that her tabs are "Most of the time it's just really good one-liners." However, she says for books with intense world-building, "One [color] is just for one-liners that I liked, one is for predictions ... and one is for important names or when a character that I feel like is going to be important turns up and are described."

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