Annotation Basics

If you don’t have a free Hypothesis account yet or need to equip your browser with our extension or bookmarklet, visit our Get Started page or find more detailed help in our Quick Start Guide.

Once you’re equipped with Hypothesis, you can explore and interact with public annotations. You’ll need to log in to create annotations and to see private or group annotations.

Viewing annotations

Visit any webpage and activate Hypothesis in Chrome by clicking the Hypothesis extension button in your toolbar.

Screenshot of Chrome toolbar with Hypothesis extension icon.

In other browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari, click the bookmarklet in your toolbar to activate Hypothesis.

Screenshot of Firefox toolbar showing Hypothesis bookmarklet.

If Hypothesis is already activated, the website you are visiting probably has embedded Hypothesis so any visitor can use annotation without needing a browser extension or bookmarklet.

Open the Hypothesis sidebar or click on highlights to view existing public annotations.

Screenshot of a webpage showing the closed Hypothesis sidebar and highlighted text.

Use the Hypothesis sidebar to explore annotations and page notes.

Screenshot of the open Hypothesis sidebar with controls labelled.

Log in to Hypothesis in the upper right of the sidebar to see your own private annotations and annotations in your private groups.

Screenshot of the sign in link in the Hypothesis sidebar.

Interacting with annotations

Every annotation has various components, including a unique link (aka URL) you can use to share it on social media, via email, or by copying the link to paste elsewhere.

Screenshot of an annotation labelled with various components.

Log in to Hypothesis to reply to any annotation or page note, starting an attached, threaded conversation.

Screenshot of annotation with reply thread.

Creating annotations

Log in to Hypothesis and use your cursor to select any text. The annotation adder will pop up, enabling you to choose whether to create a highlight (highlights are like private annotations with no related note) or to annotate the selected text.

Screenshot of the Hypothesis adder next to highlighted text on a webpage.

When creating an annotation, use the toolbar above your note to format text, and add links, pictures, or equations (in LaTeX format). You can also paste links to YouTube videos to embed them in your note. There’s a help button to learn more about the simple “Markdown” formatting. Use Preview to see how your note will look before you post.

Screenshot showing common formatting for a Hypothesis annotation.

Annotations can be searched by tags, so you can add as many tags as you want to relate it to other annotations with the same tags.

Screenshot of tags being added to a Hypothesis annotation.

Use the groups menu in the sidebar to choose whether to post your finished note in the public layer or in one of your groups.

Screenshot of the Hypothesis group selection menu.

In whichever group you choose, you can make your note private by choosing “Only Me”. For more information on how this works, see our help article: Who can see my annotations?

Screenshot of the Hypothesis privacy selection menu.

You can also create public or private page notes to make more general annotations not related to specific highlights on the page.

Screenshot showing Hypothesis page note authoring.

You can come back at any time to edit or delete your own highlights, annotations, replies, or page notes.

Exploring annotations

If you return to any webpage or document with annotations and activate Hypothesis, you’ll see all your own annotations, along with any annotations shared by other people. But you can also click on your username in the Hypothesis sidebar to visit your profile to find all your annotations collected together.

Screenshot showing how to click on your username in the Hypothesis sidebar to reach your profile.

Your profile is a dashboard where you can find a list of all your annotated documents with the latest at the top, and search them by keywords, tag, group, or URL (ie, the web address of an annotated document).

Screenshot of Hypothesis profile view with search menu open.

Click on any document in the list to see details, including all annotations, highlighted text, tags, annotators, and links to visit the original source and annotations in context, or to share annotations via social media, email, or elsewhere.

Screenshot of a detail from the Hypothesis search view.

The same dashboard in your profile enables you to explore not only your own annotations, but also public and shared annotations by others. Click in the search field to expand beyond your own annotations and search by keywords, user, tag, group, or URL (ie, the web address of an annotated document).

Screenshot showing Hypothesis annotation search filters.

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