How to Do a Literature Close Reading?

When it comes to literature, close reading is a technique that helps you understand and master the text in a better way. In other words, it is the art of looking very close within the lines, phrases, and words and understanding the whys of them.

So, here is the step-by-step process of how to do a close reading.

Begin With Annotation 

The first step to start your close read journey is to annotate. It is the process of highlighting and underlying the material that seems important or has a deeper meaning to it or offers insights towards a better understanding of the overall text. The key to this technique is to rely on the hard copy of the text. It will help you connect with the text near almost no electronic screen or e-book.

Make Notes as You go! 

Another thing you should do to understand the text better is to make side notes. The insights of these notes should come from the textual observation and your objective response to the material. For example, what was the first thing you observed that struck you? What are its elements? Is it love, suspense, or revolution? Jot everything down. It will help you draw logical conclusions about the text without even understanding the background.

Establish Patterns of Similarities and Differences 

Another step in close reading is to establish the patterns in the text. Is there a repetition of the same types of the word? Are the sentence structures rhyming or repetitive? What is the structuring in the paragraphs? What kinds of word are used to represent a particular situation? All of these questions can help determine the patterns within the sections as well as sentences. It is an essential step in literature analysis as it can represent the crucial details.

Observe at the Micro-Level 

Observation at a micro level can help you understand the crux of the whole content. Look out for the syntax, pauses, rhetorical devices, sounds, imagery, and tone of the text. For example, if the sentences are short or long? What does the text sound like? Is it harsh or represent turmoil, or is it calm? Do you feel something is missing? Did the writer use analogies or symbolism?

Question the Whys of Everything 

The last and the most important thing is reflecting into the f it. Why does the text use certain words? Why did the writer miss out on details that should be talked about? These questions will help you reflect on all the observations made during the reading up of the passage.


 Literature close reading is not rocket science however without the perfect strategy it is not possible to get the gist of it. While doing the literature close reading follow the above-mentioned points to have a rejuvenating experience.