Reading Tips: How I Use Book Tabs to Annotate Books

Have you seen readers on Instagram, Youtube, or TikTok using book tabs and not sure how to get started with them? If you want to learn my full process on how I annotate books using book tabs, watch the video below or keep reading!

I have tried a number of different methods when it comes to annotating books and after much trial and error, have settled on a process that works really well for me! Keep reading to learn more.

What Does Annotating Mean?

Annotating is the process of marking up a book to make note of things that are important or that you want to remember.

You likely annotated in school with highlighters and post-it’s, however, the process of annotating doesn’t have to just be writing in your books. In fact, most recreational readers would probably cringe at the idea so we use other methods, such as book tabs!

Is Annotating A Book Helpful?

This is totally subjective, but for me, annotation allows me to fully immerse myself into a story (probably sounds contradictory to some of you!) and to better recognize the important details.

I make note of all the things that are important to me (world-building, romance, quotes, etc. — more on this later) and it allows me to go back and reference things as needed.

I find that annotation is especially helpful when I’m reading books for read-alongs, book clubs, buddy-reads, etc. Having details and quotes tabbed really helps me to engage in the conversation and gives me specific references when we’re talking about certain moments.

The Best Book Tabs on Amazon

You might think, aren’t all tabs the same? My answer: No. Not even close.

I have tried a ton of different tabs from different brands and have only found one that I truly love. You can view and shop my favorite tabs here.

Here’s why I think they’re the best:

  • They come in a pack of 2000 for under $10
  • They are transparent (allowing you to see text underneath)
  • They have a pointed edge (allowing you to point at a certain sentence or paragraph)
  • They are easy to write on
  • They don’t ruin your page if they need to be moved, which a lot of other tabs are very guilty of!

Truly, they are the best of the best and everyone I know that has tried them has loved them! Plus, they will last you forever!

Reading Tips: How I Use Book Tabs to Annotate Books

How I Use Colored Tabs to Annotate

So now you’re probably wondering, but how do I actually use the tabs!?

Well, it’s pretty easy. I use a color-coded system using five colored tabs. Each color has it’s own meaning in terms of what it represents in the book.

Here is what each tab color means for me:

Orange = World-building/Important Details
Pink = Romantic or sweet moments
Yellow = Favorite Quotes
Green = Most memorable/favorite moments
Blue = Sad or shocking moments

90% of the time, I use the same meaning for each color, but when I’m running low on a color or reading different genres, I’ll occasionally mix things up.

For instance, when I’m reading a romance book, world-building isn’t going to be something to take note of so I might change orange to funny moments instead.

This is why I ALWAYS make a key at the beginning of every book I tab.

Since the point of tabbing is to make note of moments that you can reference down the road, it’s not going to be very helpful if you can’t remember what your colors meant at the time you read it.

Reading Tips: How I Use Book Tabs to Annotate Books

In the front or back cover, I always place one of each tab and write the meaning of that color.

That way, if I come back to the book down the road, I can reference my tab key and know exactly what each color meant at that time.

Once I’ve settled on my tab meanings and made my key, I just start reading and tab away!

My Most Frequently Asked Questions About Book Tabbing

Q. What’s the point of book tabbing?
Again, this is super subjective, but for me, it’s a way to note memorable or important details. I’ve found it to be super helpful when I’m reading a book for a book club or read-along.

Q. Do you annotate every book?
Definitely not. I usually only annotate books that I think I’ll really love, are re-reads, or are for a book club, read-along, or buddy read.

Q. Does it take you longer to read?
Nope! I mean, it probably did at first, but tabbing has become such second nature that I don’t even have to think about it now. Once you find a color key system that works for you, you won’t have to think “shoot, what color was world-building?” — your reflexes will know.

Q. Does tabbing take away from your reading experience?
Again, tabbing has become such second nature that it’s just a reflex. I can usually grab a tab and mark my spot without taking my eyes off the page. If anything, it makes me appreciate the story more because I am more aware of the content I’m reading.