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Chemistry LibreTexts

5.3.1: Web Annotations

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    Integrated into LibreText is the web annotation service.  This service allows you to highlight text and make notes (annotations) in a collapsable overlay that you can share with your class or keep private. Annotations can be used in two fundamentally different ways.  First, through the proper use of tags you can use it to organize your notes and prepare for exams, quizzes and laboratory experiments. Second, if annotations are posted to your class group you can use it as a tool to communicate with your instructor and other students. If someone replies to your annotation an email is triggered to the email that is associated with your account. The following 4:53 min youtube gives a quick overview of the use of with LibreText.

    Video \(\PageIndex{1}\): Overview of the use of within LibreTexts (uploaded by R.E.Belford). The overlay on the right side of the image allows you to make notes and tag your annotation.  You can even embed images and YouTube videos in the overlay.

    You do not need to create an account at to read public annotations but you do need one to make an annotation or read annotations to the class group. If you install the extension on your browser you can also annotate and tag any open access webpage, and through proper use of tags can organize it within your notes in a manner that fits within your LibreText assignments. also generates a "contextual link" that allows you to share your annotation with your instructor and classmates.  This link opens the webpage in a new browser window, scrolls down to the highlighted text and opens your annotation in the overlay. works on PDFs too.

    Making an Account

    Go to and follow the steps outlined in figure \(\PageIndex{1}\).

    clipboard_e01de3b69ff6b0f16b19d3bb37d901c3e.pngFigure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Steps for creating a account at (Copyright; R.E.Belford CC0)

    You do not need the chrome extension to make annotations within LibreTexts, but do if you wish to annotate other pages on the web.

    Making Annotations

    To make an annotation you simply highlight the text you want to annotate, choose "Annotate" and write in the overlay.   Note, the first time you open up a page it will post to "Public" and you need to change that to your class group.  Once you have started posting to the class group it will be the default option, but initially the default is public.

    clipboard_e5b6173470a45675def8024f91ee88cd6.pngFigure \(\PageIndex{2}\): To annotate you simply highlight text and write in the overlay.  (Copyright; Belford, cc.0)

    If you tag your annotation you can easily find it by going to your homepage in and then filtering by tags.  So you may want to make tags like "exam 1", or "nomenclature".  If you then filter with your user name and exam 1, you see those items you tagged (see video \(\PageIndex{1}\) at 3:00 min.  If you just do exam 1, you filter for everything the class tagged exam 1.  You can then click the contextual link by the annotation, and will open that page, navigate to the highlighted text and display the annotation. (Note: In LibreText the highlights are hidden by default, and you need to click the "eye" with the slash over it (figure \(\PageIndex{2}\).


    Using the overlay to read discussions

    By default the overlay is closed and you do not see the annotations.


    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): By default the overlay is closed and annotations are hidden. This image shows how to pick a group and view group activity (Copyright; Belford CC0)

    Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\) shows how to pick a group and view group activity.


    clipboard_ede07c932a7b18df81876f7441ce3560b.pngFigure \(\PageIndex{4}\): Annotation and highlights text being displayed. (Copyright; Belford CC0)


    Using tags

    Tags are a very powerful way of organizing your notes and has different types of tags.  When in figure \(\PageIndex{2}\) the overlay was changed from "Public" to your class group, a tag of the type "group" was being used to filter the results in the overlay.  If you navigate to your group page in (right side of figure \(\PageIndex{3}\)) you enter your class page in, where you can see all the annotations to your group (top of figure \(\PageIndex{5}\) shows 148 annotations to the 2020 IOST class group). Only members of the group can see annotations with this type of tag, and you also see two other types of tags, the ones the members of the group posted to the pages being shown [tag type=tag] and the members of the group [tag type= user]. This allows you to filter the results to those of a group (top of \(\PageIndex{5}\)) , those of the group and a particular tag (middle of figure \(\PageIndex{5}\)), and those of a tag and a specific person in the group (bottom of figure \(\PageIndex{5}\)).

    use of tags to filter contentFigure \(\PageIndex{5}\): Use of website to filter tags of a LibreText class.  Note three types of tags are being used; "group" (class), "tag" & "user" (Copyright; Belford CC-BY)

    If you click on any annotation you will see what was highlighted, what the comment was, and a contextual link that navigates to the annotation in the document and opens the annotation in the overlay.  Annotations are thus a powerful tool to organize your notes and to communicate with students and instructors.

    Note: Tags and Metacognition

    Metacognition is "thinking about thinking" and a powerful tool to improve your study habits. When you highlight text and make annotations in the process of studying you connecting what you are reading to what you think is important to know, and tagging adds a deeper layer to the organization of your notes. Careful thought should be made when choosing tags, and you should always use the autofill option (you do not want two tags for the same concept like molecule and molecules, unless there is something different between the meaning of the two tags).  You should practice at filtering tags within the website as that is how you can refine your notes from general categories to specific items. But most important you should think about what you annotate and how you tag it, find out what works best for you, and that is literally the definition of metacognition. So experiment and find out what works best for you.



    This page titled 5.3.1: Web Annotations is shared under a CC BY 1.3 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Robert Belford.