Study Smarter – Take Notes And Highlight Text Within iBooks [iOS Tips]

iBooks Notes Highlights

Ebooks are all the rage these days, and your iPad is a perfect device for reading them. Textbooks, too, are becoming de riguer for many students in college and even high school, as educators, schools, and publishers find a greater demand for electronic instructional materials.

But studying from a book requires interacting with the text at a greater level than just reading it, of course, as students need to keep track of specific passages, or comment on them as they relate to their learning or lecture notes. Most eReading apps, like Nook and Kindle, have these features as well, but iBooks definitely has the most well designed, so let’s take a look at how to use it to study with your electronic books.

Launch iBooks on your iPad or iPhone (I’m using iBooks 3.0.2 for this tip), and open a book, textbook or otherwise. Select a passage of text with the standard selection tools for iOS, e.g., tap and hold till the magnifying loop shows up, or double tap on a word and adjust the handles to select the passage. A contextual menu will pop up, giving you the option to Copy, Define, Highlight, Note, Search, or Share. Tap Highlight.

The section will highlight with the default color, yellow, and you’ll get another contextual menu. Tap the colored circles to the left and you’ll be able to change the color of the highlight, or even choose to just underline your selected passage. Tap the circle with the red line through it to remove the highlight, the Note icon to add a note (see below) or hit the Share button to send to Facebook, Twitter, email, or as an iMessage. Tap the arrow to the right and you’ll be able to Copy, Define, or Search again.

Now, to add a Note to your passage, you do the same thing. Select a word or passage (or tap an already highlighted section), tap the Notes icon, and then a Note will pop up, colored the same as your default highlighting. Type your note and then tap off of the Note area. A little tiny sticky-note image will appear to the right of your selected passage, also the same color as your highlight and note. Slick, right?

Now you can highlight and note to your heart’s content, and study smarter, not harder. Though, you really should still study hard.

  • UserUser

    Thanks for this review. I’ve been checking out various solutions lately for this kind of highlighting/note-taking/marginalia, and feel fairly nonplussed about all of the options. I’d be curious to know more about why you think “iBooks definitely [is] the most well designed.”

  • ICTKiwi

    Since this review, there has been an update v3.1 and when I tried to use the highlight option, the contextual menu seemed to be missing this option. Is this the case, or am I doing something wrong maybe??

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, Creative Screenwriting, Shelf-Awareness, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef, and send him a cookie once in a while; he'll really appreciate it.

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