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Highlighting and writing all over your textbooks

  1. Jan 12, 2013 #1
    Just something I'm a little curious to know about other physics enthusiasts.

    I used to just read textbooks and try keeping it in pristine condition, but in the recent year I gave in to my urge to highlight and write on textbooks. Nowadays I just write, underline, and scribble whatever I want on my textbooks- notes, insight, extra definitions, whatever into my textbooks to help my learning.

    Do you guys have the habit of just writing all over your textbooks?

    (I don't know what's the best forum to post this, but this seem to be the most appropriate. Moderators please move it accordingly if need be. Thanks!)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2013 #2
    Ohh yes. I always sit down with a highlighter, pencil and an eraser. The more I love a book, the messier it looks. My copy of Feynman Lectures of Physics gives an impression of a 2 year old's coloring book. =)

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  4. Jan 12, 2013 #3
    As I am very low in age or Experience, but last year when I was Preparing for AP Physics C, I used to make a handbook which have All definitions and Formulas instead of highlighting or writing or book. If you start writing on book (by pensil) also then in Exercise section you also do the whole work, and I was always want to read a neat book having not a hint given on Exercise Problems.
  5. Jan 12, 2013 #4
    Eww...I like to keep my books clean. If I need to make marks, I can always make notes and not defile the book.
  6. Jan 12, 2013 #5
    I use pencil because it doesn't bleed or warp pages like high lighters do. After I have attended lecture, done the HW and developed some methodology behind the problems, THEN I'll leave myself clean notes in my calculus book. I can refresh material much quicker this way and it saves time spent digging up notes and space for storage.
  7. Jan 12, 2013 #6
    It looks horrible, I get mad when I buy used textbooks and they are riddled with that crap. Do problems in a composition book or something!
  8. Jan 12, 2013 #7
    What's next ripping pages straight on out of the textbook?
  9. Jan 12, 2013 #8
    If the textbook is really good and useful it is going to be used and abused. I am going to write on it highlight stuff and add post its all over the place. I am also going to keep it after I finish the course. If on the other hand I get fooled into buying one really bad textbook I will never touch it and someone is going to buy a unused book for half the price. I stopped being fooled buying useless textbooks after my first year though.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  10. Jan 12, 2013 #9


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    Wait until you're my age then you'll be glad you annotated your books. :rolleyes:
  11. Jan 12, 2013 #10
    If my son takes organic chemistry, I would like him to see what textbook I used looked like. Of course his will be digital, with 3-D rendering of reaction mechanisms.
  12. Jan 12, 2013 #11


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    I underlined and made notes in the margins of all my engineering books. It actually made them easier to sell, as long as the departments didn't change texts. The lecture halls were very large, especially for physics and chemistry, so the lectures were pretty standardized.
  13. Jan 12, 2013 #12
    Stop it!
  14. Jan 15, 2013 #13
    Right on! It may not look pretty, but I feel notes written on the textbook makes it much easier to refresh my memory with additional insights when reviewing material.

    I agree, I wouldn't write hints to the problems. However, I do like writing notes on the text to aid my learning.

    To each their own I guess. :smile:

    Exactly my thoughts!

    Oh I already am!:smile:
  15. Jan 15, 2013 #14
    Your marks in the book will not be appreciated by the next reader of it. You may think you'll keep it forever, but that can't happen. I buy used books all the time, the property of people now dead in many cases, and even if they owned the book till the age of 90, they died in the end and their stuff was sold.

    Books that are marked up with other people's distracting thoughts about what was salient are hard to read and extremely damaged as to value. After a point you can't even resell them.

    When I read I copy important passages over into a notebook and write my comments about them there. The next reader of the book will almost certainly have no interest in what I thought was important
  16. May 11, 2014 #15


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    I don't highlight or write anything off to the side, but sometimes I do underline important things.
  17. May 11, 2014 #16


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    amen to that .... years later when looking through the books, those scribbles and hilites have reminded me on how to approach problems etc

    I never sold my university text books, would never get back the huge amounts I paid for them, so much more worthwhile to keep them for future reference :smile:

    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  18. May 11, 2014 #17

    jim hardy

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    AND - if i didnt see my own handwriting in them, i'd swear i never saw some of 'em before .
  19. May 12, 2014 #18


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    I urge against it. Look at what happened with Fermat. He scribbled something in the margins of one of his books, and for over 300 years after that, many mathematicians lost a lot of sleep trying to prove the conjecture scribbled there (Fermat's Last Theorem, of course). When someone finally got the details straight, the proof filled its own book, rather than a few lines or a couple of pages that Fermat himself hinted it would fit in.
  20. May 12, 2014 #19


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    I'll occasionally pencil in a correction if I see an error, or a couple of words reminding me how to bridge a gap in a proof if it's tricky. But no highlighting or verbose notes! That's what notebooks are for.
  21. May 12, 2014 #20
    I do not like doing that because it usually makes the textbook (for me) illegible.
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