Close reading is an important part of studying literature. Typically, this means reading a short passage of text in detail to analyze how it works. But how do you do this effectively? We have five tips to help you get started:\n\n\n \tThink about why you're doing a close reading and create a list of questions you want to answer. These will guide your analysis.\n \tRead carefully, take notes, and annotate the text as you read.\n \tLook for patterns in the text, including stylistic and thematic repetition.\n \tReread the text several times to make sure you pick out every detail.\n \tSummarize your notes before writing up your analysis.\n\nBelow, we will look at each of these tips in a bit more detail.\n\n1. Think Before Reading\nClose reading involves looking closely at the text. But before you start, you need to have a sense of what you are looking for in your close reading.\nIf you're a student, this will probably depend on the paper title or assignment you were set. Or it could just be some aspect of the text you want to explore.\nIn either case, before you start reading, note a few questions or ideas that interest you about the piece. You might notice other things once you start exploring the text, but you can use these questions as a jumping off point for your analysis.\n\n2. Take Notes as You Read\nWhen you start reading the text, read slowly and take notes. This forces you to pay attention and read actively rather than passively absorb the text.\nExactly what you look for will depend on the text you're reading. However, you should note down or highlight anything that could be relevant to your analysis, or that jumps out at you for some reason. Typically, this will include things like:\n\n\n \tThe subject matter and themes of the passage\n \tInteresting or unusual words and phrases\n \tHow the text is structured\n \tAny imagery or metaphors used by the author\n \tFor works of fiction, the characters and narration\n \tFor poetry, the poetic form used other poetic techniques\n\nYou could also annotate the text directly by highlighting key passages or making notes in the margin. If you want to do this, though, make sure you're allowed first. Librarians may get upset if you return a book with more writing than it started with!\n\n3. Look for Patterns in the Text\nLook for patterns in the text, such as where the author has used repetition or contrast. Patterns like these usually indicate an attempt to stress an idea, draw attention to something, or create a specific tone or rhythm in the text.\nThese patterns can be thematic (i.e., related to what the text is about) or formal (i.e., related to how the text is written). Or they might be both.\nFor instance, a poet might use rhyme and assonance to make a poem flow in a certain way. But by using those rhymes to connect specific words they can also link or contrast ideas, affecting how we interpret them in the poem.\nAs such, make sure to look for these kinds of connections and contrasts when you are close reading. If a pattern jumps out at you, it is probably there for a reason!\n\n4. Reread the Text\nClose reading requires reading a text more than once. This ensures you don't miss anything important as well as making you engage with the text in a different way.\nTo start, read the passage in full once to familiarize yourself with it, making notes on anything that jumps out. But after this first read through, focus on an individual element of the text each time, such as its structure, language, or themes. You can also read the passage aloud to get a sense of its rhythm and tone.\nDoing this will help you spot things you might have missed otherwise, since you will be able to focus on one aspect of the text at a time.\n\n5. Summarize Your Thoughts\nThe final step is to summarize your thoughts. This means organizing your notes in preparation for writing up an analysis. To do this:\n\n\n \tGroup notes together under headings, such as "Themes" and "Language." This will help you spot connections you might have missed before.\n \tUse your initial notes and your paper\/assignment question to select the most relevant details for your analysis.\n \tThink critically about anything from your notes that challenges your initial ideas or that does not seem to fit with your overall analysis.\n \tWhere relevant, paraphrase key ideas in your own words, then compare your version to the original text to make sure you've fully understood it.\n\nThis will make it easier to approach writing up your work.\n\nExpert Academic Proofreading\nWe hope these close reading tips help you in your academic writing. Once you have written up your work, though, don't forget to have it proofread by the experts! Sign up for a free trial of our proofreading services today to find out more.