I was a big fan of used text books in law school. One of the perqs was to get a book that had been highlighted by someone who knew how to wield a colored pen! It meant you could save sometime from doing your own highlights. The worst was when someone had highlighted practically every word, so that the purpose of the highlighting was lost.
You can apply the same research and study techniques to online research. There are a number of Web browser extensions for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome that enable you to apply a highlighter to text on a Web page that you visit. The information about the highlighted text is then stored, so that the next time you visit the same Web page, it will retain the highlight you applied. No-one else sees this highlight – you’re not actually changing the Web page. But it can be a useful way to transition a paper-based way of making your reading more efficient into your online research world.
I prefer the Diigo tool because it is a multi-purpose extension, and works in Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. You can highlight text (in multiple colors!), bookmark a page, or apply a sticky note. It means you can turn any Web page into the equivalent of your print texts. Each activity is stored in your online Diigo account, so you aren’t having to go to one online resource to manage your bookmarks and another to manage your other reference enhancements. Another nice feature of Diigo is that you do not need to create a special account with them. You log into Diigo using your Facebook, Google, or other OpenID compatible resource. This means you don’t have to remember a new username and password.
Another benefit to using Diigo is that it stores your information online, so you can get to your bookmarks and highlighted content from multiple computers. If you do not use multiple computers or are concerned about storing this content online, consider some of the other highlighting extensions for your browser:
Highlighting isn’t for everyone but if it is a useful way for you to separate different types of information you have read and need to react to quickly, visually, these highlighter tools can be nice enhancements for your online research.