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Collaborative Annotation Activity for College Classes

Help Your Students Save Money, Develop Their Research and Paraphrasing Skills, Contextualize Literature, Create an Open-Access Resource, and Get Published!

  1. Rather than requiring your students to purchase a physical copy of a pre-1923 author's novel, play, poetry, or short fiction, collaborate with your students to annotate the assigned text yourselves!

  2. Locate your assigned text online at a public domain library like Project Gutenberg or the Internet Archive and open the work's plain-text file.

  3. Create a Google Document and paste the work's plain text into it.

  4. Format the text accordingly (feel free to use Annotated's™ format as a model by consulting any of our annotated editions).

  5. For each term or phrase of the text that requires annotation, create a footnote with only the term/phrase in italics and a colon [ex. Oliver Goldsmith: ].

  6. Create a share link for your students by clicking the share icon.

  7. Tally the number of annotations for your assigned text and divide them among your students (if you are collaborating across multiple classes, you may want to create a copy of your document for each class—we have found that having multiple versions of each annotation helps the instructor's final editing process).

  8. In a computer lab (preferably in your campus library) during your class period, provide the document's share link to your students and assign each one their annotations.

  9. Using your campus' library resources, demonstrate to your students how to look up a selected term's or phrase's definition or background information, paraphrase it, and cite it in the alloted footnote space (some particularly helpful resources commonly provided by college libraries include The Oxford English Dictionary, The Encyclopædia Britannica, and ThDictionary of National Biography). Be sure to instruct your students to include their names so they can get publication credit for their work in the Acknowledgments page when your edition is published on

  10. Circulate among your students, helping as needed.

  11. Once the lab activity is over and they have completed their annotations, review them and edit as needed. Once you are done editing, convert your document to a PDF file and assign that text for your class to read instead of a textbook! You'll find that students are more invested in the text now that they have had a hand in annotating it.

  12. Email a .doc or .docx file of your annotated text to We will review, note-check, format, edit, and publish it on as an open-access resource, therein making the literary work more accessible and free to all! What is more, you and your students will receive full recognition for your publication—not many students can lay claim to such an accomplishment so early in their academic careers!


—If you have any questions in regards to this process, or require any assistance,

please feel free to email us at We are happy to help!—

Your class activity not only helps your students save money and gain a better understanding and appreciation of their assigned text, but it also furthers Annotated's humanitarian project by creating a free literary resource to other students and life-long learners alike.


Thank you for helping your students more effectively and affordably learn—and thank you for helping Annotated realize its mission to make literature & literary resources both accessible & free. Congratulations on your course's new publication!

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