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Colour-coded highlighting

The first full week of school has come and almost gone, and if your schedule is anything like mine, you already have a long list of reading assignments to complete. One thing that can be discouraging about actually doing all of the coursework on schedule is that when you sit down to study for exams, you have nothing but a blank book staring back at you. This is where strategic color-coded highlighting comes in.


By highlighting key points in the material, you will have visual clues guiding your revision come exam time. And even if you like to take notes or make summaries of reading assignments, I find going through an entire chapter or article first, highlighting along the way, helps point out what is worth putting in your notebook, and what is not. A page marked entirely in yellow, of course, is no more helpful than the blank one when it comes to revision. What you need are immediate visual clues and that’s why I have devised this color-coded system.



Yellow → Highlight in yellow important points, facts, examples etc.

Pink → Use pink (or orange) to denote material that is even more important than what’s in yellow. For example, sentences that summarize sections, that explain the significance of the section, or provide definitions. (You may be really thankful for the two-level highlighting if you only have time for a bare bones revision.)

Blue → Reserve blue for words that will subsequently be defined (and then put their definitions in pink), titles or special terms.


Green → Mark in green dates, names or places that you will need to remember. Green can also be used for formulas.

Purple → If the material contains any rules, use the boldness of purple to set them apart.



That’s it. The two-levels of pink and yellow are not meant to cover everything on the page. Remember that this system is not meant to allow you to highlight more, but just with greater specificity. Adapt the color code to suit your needs or the highlighters you have in stock. This may add a few minutes to your reading schedule, but once you get the hang of your system, you may find it a worthwhile investment!


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One Response to “Colour-coded highlighting”

  1. This is a really good post and great tips. I can say myself that using colours to highlight what’s the most important is very useful and can be a huge help. I’ve used colours since I can remember, I can’t imagine studying in a different way.