Close Reading and Annotation

Harvard Writing Center



(1) Read the text more than once

(2) Persevere in reading and comprehending challenging text

(3) Analyze the text for structure and levels of meaning

(4) Use evidence from the text to ask and answer text-dependent questions

(5) Increase comprehension of a text through multiple re-readings

(6) Participate in rich and rigorous conversations/activities about a common text.

Supporting Students in Close Reading (pdf)

1st reading: What is says. • What is the text saying?

2nd reading: How it says it. • How did the author organize it? • What literary devices were used and how effective were they? • What was the quality of the evidence? • If data were presented, how was that done? • If any visual texts (e.g., diagrams, tables, illustrations) were presented, how was that done? • Why did the author choose this word or that word? Was the meaning of a key term consistent or did it change across the text?

3rd reading: What it means. • What does this text mean? • What was the author’s point? • What does it have to say to me about my life or my world? How do I evaluate the quality of this work—aesthetically, substantively? • How does this text connect to other texts I know? General follow-up questions for any of the text-dependent questions are: • How do you know? • What in the text tells you that? • What’s the evidence?