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Annotations are comments (including marginalia), highlights or any other interactions that add to (part of) a post, typically added by individuals other than the author.

How to markup

For how to markup annotations in general, see the individual how to markup sections for what you are looking to markup:

See responses for more types of annotations and details therein.

Use Cases


Opinions about "annotation" (the process/action).

Just a means to an end

To me, annotation is just a means to an end, so talking about promoting annotation is mistaken. Promote the end *via* annotation. #force2016

William Gunn,

Silo Examples

  • News Genius (AKA Genius, RapGenius)
  • Amazon allows the sharing of notes and highlights from it's Kindle platform online. Example: recent activity
  • Scrible, allows for annotation as well as bookmarking and tagging
  • Fermat's Library has a feature called Margins which allows users to upload .pdf articles to annotate and share with others online. It's primarily geared toward the education space.
  • Goodreads
    • On 2016-08-10 Goodreads enabled the ability to sync one's account with their Amazon Kindle account to port over highlights and annotations from Kindle books to the GoodReads platform and share them with one's followers. (GoodReads is a subsidiary of Amazon). The blog post Share Your Kindle Notes and Highlights with Your Friends (Beta) describes the details of the functionality whose UI is pictured below.
    • Some of the functionality offered includes
      • Highlights and notes are private by default
      • A slider on/off button to make individual annotations visible as well as one to make all annotations visible
      • The ability to delete individual annotations
      • The ability to add notes to each highlight online
      • The ability to mark highlights and notes as spoilers.

  • Third Voice
    • An early attempt from 1999, done via browser plug-in, and suffered from the usual Tragedy of the Comments, closed in 2001.

Other Annotation Related Projects

In 2016/2017 Hypothesis was maintaining an active spreadsheet of sites and services that enabled annotation on the internet.

W3C Recommendations

On 2017-02-23 the W3C published several inter-related recommendations based on the notes of the Web Annotation Working Group. For some discussion on them, see Annotation is now a web standard post on blog.

Despite being published as W3C Recommendations, there has been very little actual support in the wild for these W3C specifications, outside of, which has essentially become a dominant silo for W3C-spec annotations.


Annotation Sites Enable Abuse

Many web-based annotation programs/applications only allow the communities or subgroups who are aware that they exist to see the annotations, thereby making them available for potential abuse.

See specifically:

Webmentions could be used to help remedy this potential problem:


  • Chris Aldrich has been experimenting since 2018-06-22 with PESOS of highlights and annotations using to his own website for use as part of his commonplace book. Using Post Kinds Plugin he has created some custom post types for being able to post highlights and annotations as specific post types to his website.
    • Examples of highlights can be found here: (Note: These were ultimately subsumed into annotations, see just below).
    • Examples of annotations can be found here:
    • After some initial experimentation, he's considering concatenating the two different types (highlights and annotations) into just one catch-all (annotations). He's also been considering using a yellow "highlighter color" in his UI to mirror the physical world incarnation of ubiquitous pen-like ink highlighters as is sometimes done in fragmention implementations.
    • Sometimes he prefers to create read posts under which he includes the highlights and marginalia from the material he's read. (example)
    • In all cases, he includes URLs when available and sends webmentions to the original pieces so that they might add in line marginalia as commentary if they prefer.
    • Perhaps in the future he'll extrapolate this work using a POSSE workflow?
    • He's used ideas and markup from quote posts to guide some of his thinking as well.
  • Jeremy Cherfas distinguishes between annotations, which are notes created by a reader for their own use, now and in the future, and other kinds of response, which may be directed more at the author of a piece or other readers of that piece. He is old-fashioned about using annotations to build and make sense of his own knowledge archive. These annotations may eventually find their way into published pieces, but in essence are private responses to the piece in question and its relationship to other pieces.


Sessions at IndieWebCamps

See Also