Close-Reading Markup Strategy

Using Close-Reading Markup Strategy

Learning the technique of close-reading with markups will allow you and your students to break up texts for better understanding. Marking up a text empowers students by giving them strategies to approach texts. Below are suggested strategies to use with your students. You know your students best. You may have other ideas for strategies that work better for your students.

Suggestions for Close-Reading Markup Strategies

  • Number each paragraph, excerpt, or area. (Consider dividing the text/source into sections or areas; mark each chunk with a rectangle.)
  • Circle unknown vocabulary. (You may do this for students or have them do it.)
  • Highlight/Bold key terms.
  • Use ! for thoughts/ideas and star (*) repeated thoughts/ideas.
  • Use arrows to connect related thoughts/ideas.
  • Mark ? next to a part of the text/source that is unclear or confusing.
  • Mark ?! next to a part of the text/source that raises questions or is thought-provoking (i.e., makes you want to investigate further to learn more).
  • Underline (straight line) claims.
  • Underline (wavy line) evidence that supports a claim.
  • In the left margin (or using sticky notes, a digital comments tool, or a separate chart), summarize/rephrase creator claims.


In the tabs below, is an example of a “marked up” document to demonstrate the strategies.

Before showing you the example of text with markups, here is some background information about the text and the person who wrote it. 

Background Information

Benjamin Banneker was an African American born free in Baltimore County, Maryland. He was largely self-taught and developed skills in mechanics, astronomy, and mathematics. He built an irrigation system for his family’s farm and successfully predicted lunar and solar eclipses. Banneker’s intelligence came to the attention of the Ellicott family, Quakers who grew prosperous by setting up grist mills in the Baltimore area. George Ellicott loaned books to Banneker and recommended that he work with his cousin, Andrew Ellicott, in surveying territory for the nation’s new capital city, the future Washington, DC. Banneker conceived of the idea of publishing an almanac of his astronomical calculations and was encouraged by leading Quaker abolitionists, who thought such a work would help combat the belief that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites by nature. 

Banneker sent a copy of his published almanac with the following letter to Thomas Jefferson.

Additional Resources