Last modified on 18 June 2011, at 23:55

Wikibooks:Annotated texts

What is an annotated text?

An annotated text contains two elements:

  1. A copy of a published original primary source text or other established narrative, academic or literary media, available under a Wikibooks-compatible license.
  2. Various kinds of study aids for reading, understanding, and teaching the text, known as annotations. These may include explanatory notes, introductions, summaries, questions and answers, charts, lists, indices, references, wikilinks, media, etc.

In an annotated text the annotations are interwoven with the primary source text in order to make the book more reader-friendly. The goal of an annotated text is to facilitate reading and comprehension of the source media, especially in a classroom environment in preparation for formal examinations, or even for private study (for instance, the classic Cliff's Notes on Shakespeare are meant to help students prepare for examinations on literature that they read at home.) Because annotated texts are a kind of educational material it has been declared as Wikibooks policy to include them. This is despite the fact that most primary source texts normally belong at Wikisource.

It may also be possible for Wikibookians to annotate other forms of narrative media besides just written texts. For instance, it may be possible to annotate a motion picture, a video game, or a musical song/album. Such cases might be permitted under this policy if they are shown to be academic and well-written.

For guidelines on how to distinguish which texts belong on which project, please see Wikisource's article Wikisource and Wikibooks. There are no absolute rules for texts of this kind and any reasonable decision by the contributor(s) should be respected.

Source texts without annotations

A number of source texts have been contributed to Wikibooks over the course of time with the express intention of using them as part of annotated text and a few have actually been annotated to one degree or another. However, little or no annotation has been written for the majority of these texts. Source texts without annotations belong at Wikisource. Even some texts with annotations may reasonably be kept at Wikisource, provided that the primary focus is on the source text, not on classroom instruction or test preparation.

In general, the good-faith intentions and work of a contributor who added an important source text to Wikibooks should be honored. This is true even if its takes a very long time until annotations are written. Nevertheless, these texts are really more appropriate for Wikisource than for Wikibooks. Therefore, they may become candidates for deletion if and when the following criteria are all met:

  • The source text also exists in the same format at Wikisource.
  • The source text is not a text widely used in classrooms for which there will clearly be a need for future annotations and interest in writing them.
    • For an example that does not meet this criterion, take the works of Shakespeare. These are central classroom texts and cultural icons. Thus there is a clear demand for annotations of them, and there are clearly people who will be interested in writing them at some point. Therefore, the copies of these texts might as well be left at Wikibooks, even though they also exist at Wikisource.
  • The source text has absolutely no annotations, or the annotation is so minimal that its erasure constitutes no loss of educational material.

When all of the above criteria are met, a book may become a candidate for deletion.

It should also be noted that Wikibooks is a multilingual project. A text here at English Wikibooks may also be part of a larger multilingual annotation project. If annotations to a book are proceeding in another language, and the passages are linked, then the English version should be kept even if it has no annotations. For example, if Shakespeare is being annotated in German, then the German contributors should be able to simply put an "en:" link to connect to the original English version of each unit of text. They should not be forced to link to the Wikisource version just because there is very little annotation yet in English.

Creating an annotated text

In general, break your text into user-friendly sections (e.g. chapters), each of which must be linked to and from the title page using the standard naming convention.

If you want to start annotating a large text, there is no need to add the entire source text immediately at the beginning. Instead, start by copying and annotating a limited initial portion of the text. Later sections can be added to Wikibooks at a future date when the annotation is already substantial. By implementing this suggestion you can maintain a reasonable balance between the source text and your annotations at all stages of the project from beginning to end.

When you start a Wikibooks project to annotate a text, please list the main title page in the following place:

  • Subject:Literature - The related subjects cover texts of different genres. Please list your book in its respective genre(s) by adding it to the subject category of the same name using {{subjects}}.

Other relevant pages