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OER Student Guide: Reading & Learning from Digital Texts: 5a. Highlighting & Taking Notes in OER

Use this guide to help you learn to navigate your electronic textbooks and open educational resource materials.

5a. Highlighting & Taking Notes With OERs

Some OERs allow you to highlight and take notes in your web browser, but not all of them. OpenStax, for example, will allow you to take notes and highlight online if you create an account.  Look closely at the page for your OER to see what options are available for highlighting or annotating the text. 

If you are able to download the OER, there are quite a few apps or programs you can use to highlight and take notes, which we show in the next few tabs. 


Pen and paper are always good options, but some students prefer to take their notes on their devices. Here are some apps to try if you want to take notes on your device or computer!

Some people will use speedreading apps to help themselves focus on the text.

If your device does not include a PDF reader, here are some free ones you can use.  Some web browsers will also let you read PDFs, although you may find the options for notetaking to be limited. We've included some links for PDF readers compatible with both Mac and Windows products.

Mac Products:

Windows Products

  • Windows computers default to Microsoft Edge/Internet Browser.  If you are using a Windows computer, you'll probably want to acquire a PDF reader.  

Additional Alternatives for PDF Readers:

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (View and annotate PDFs with this program from Adobe! Also available as a mobile app for iPhone and Android)
  • FoxIt Reader (NOTE: You will specifically want to look for FoxIt Reader as it is free! FoxIt is a PDF reader that allows you to annotate! Available as an Android and iPhone app)