When it comes to highlighting text, remember: less is more.

Highlighting text should always focus on the most important pieces of information; in other words, when you’re done highlighting a page, more of the text should remain unhighlighted than highlighted. Want to highlight a text more effectively? Consider applying these three tips.

Highlight on the Second Read Through

Avoid highlighting the first time you read a text; this may lead to irrelevant information being highlighted. Instead, read a text once to understand its purpose as well as its main ideas. Then go back and identify the most relevant, important information.

Highlight Essential Information

When highlighting, ask yourself if the information answers one of the key questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, or How. For example, if you’re reading a novel, highlight the motive for the protagonist’s murder, but skip the gory details. If you’re reading a science text, highlight the stages of photosynthesis, but skip the more detailed explanations.

Develop a Color-Coded System

Consider investing in two colors to help you code information. For example, yellow could highlight new, important vocabulary, while green could highlight main ideas. Color-coding can help you organize and recall information more quickly.

In order to remember what you read, it’s essential to remain actively engaged with the text. Highlighting is one way to do so; effective highlighting will not only help you identify the most important information, but will make reviewing key information much easier before a quiz or test.

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