|Jean LeLoup & Bob Ponterio
In this lesson we will examine techniques for preparing annotations that gloss vocabulary in text in your word processor to facilitate comprehension and thereby contribute to the development of literacy in the target language. When glossing authentic text for language learners, we need to provide appropriate cues needed to help them read as seamlessly as possible while avoiding cues that might distract students from the reading process. If the gloss is constantly pulling the student's eye away from the text, it can prevent the student from integrating meaning and context and also interrupt reading unnecessarily. This can be a delicate line to walk.
There are many different approaches to annotating a text. Information associated with a word or expression may be placed at the bottom of a page, at the end of a chapter, at the end of the document, in order of appearance, in alphabetical order, by grammatical category, by theme (body parts vs food items). A word processor will allow us to annotate text by creating a footnote or endnote. When the reader has to stop reading, turn to the back of the book or even the bottom of the page, and locate the word, the reading process is interrupted so the reader may choose to ignore many glosses when they interfere with reading to such a degree. We may also prefer to place the cue to comprehension of a word on the same eye level in the margin on the page where the word itself is found. This method may be less intrusive, interrupting the reading process to a lesser degree, but this might also encourage readers to interrupt the reading process more frequently, perhaps for words that really did not need to be checked. So we see that any technical style of glossing can have both advantages and disadvantages. For marginal notes, many word processors allow us to create text boxes that may be anchored to the line in which the glossed word is located. This method will allow the annotation to move with the word if the text is modified or reformatted.
In this exercise we will take a text from a newspaper article on the Web, reformat the text for proper word wrapping, and insert text boxes for our annotations.
Step one - get the text
- Find an article in an online newspaper of your choice from
the FLTEACH Resources page or any online newspaper of your choosing.
- Use your cursor to select the text that you wish to copy. Copy the text (ctrl-c) along with any pictures that go with it, photo captions and credits, headlines, publication logo, author, date, etc. Then paste the text into your word processor. You might need to perform multiples pastes for articles spread over several pages. We will use Microsoft Word 2007 in our example. Here the Paste button in the upper left allows several options. It is also possible to use ctrl-v to paste.
Step two - reformat the text
|- In some instances, you may not need to reformat, but pasted text may contain formatting that you do not like (text size, color, unwanted line breaks, odd column widths). If a particular pasting technique does not produce the desired results, you can always use the undo feature.|
|- If fixing the formatting is too complicated because there are too many problems, you might need to use Paste Special / Unformatted text for all or part of the copying process. This will paste the text only, allowing you to format from scratch without dealing with any odd formatting codes that might have been used in the original. On the other hand, it can be effective to try to keep as much original formatting as possible for authenticity.|
|Another option is to use the format options in the paste format icon that appears in Word at the bottom of any pasted text. In this case, after basic pasting using ctrl-v, you can change the format to use the source or destination formatting or to paste only the text portion of the clipboard contents.|
- Remove any symbols, images or text that you do not want.
- Remove any unwanted blank spaces at the beginning of lines or in other parts of your text.
- Remove any unwanted paragraph or line breaks within the paragraphs of your text if necessary.
- Remove unwanted formatting elements such as hyperlinks, underline, bold, italic, text colors. Naturally, you should leave any that you do want to keep.
(The search/replace feature of your word processor may be useful in making some repeated changes. One useful trick if paragraphs appear to be messed up is to place a special symbol at the start of each paragraph "$$$", remove all paragraph markers, then replace the symbols with new paragraph markers.) In general, Word 2007 tends to do a good job copying what you expect from a web page in a format that is usable, so you are likely to have little reformatting to do.
- Change the right or left margin to make room for your annotations. (You may need to select the text for which you wish to change the margin. Should this new margin apply to your entire document or just to the annotated text?)
Step three - add a text box to position your gloss
- First place your cursor on the word that you wish to annotate. You might also wish to mark the annotated word with a symbol, perhaps an asterisk In MS Word, select the menu item Insert / Text Box.
|If you wish to draw a text box, Word will give you a drawing cursor so you can draw the text box in the margin. Draw your text box in the location and to the size that you wish.|
|Your standard text box will have a thin line around it.|
Word can also provide a gallery of text box formats for you to choose from and can save a box that you design with a specific format that you might want to use often.
- It is possible to right-click on the text box and select Format text box, but I recommend double clicking on the textbox border to open the Format Textbox ribbon for Text Box Tools. This allows easy access to a wide range of options.
|- Under Text Box Styles, change the Shape Outline. Select No Outline to get rid of the line around your textbox. In some cases, though, you might wish to set off a note with an outline. In this case, you have many style options.|
|- Arrange the position of your main text relative to your text box text by modifying Text Wrapping if necessary. For an annotation in the margin, the "In Front of Text" setting works well because it doesn't interfere with the main text.|
- Click the Text Wrapping button for More Layout Options to access the Advanced Layout options. Make sure that Move object with text is checked.
- Change the Vertical absolute position to below the line (not the paragraph). The Vertical absolute position number can be changed to line up the textbox with the middle of the text line. The Horizontal absolute position can help make the text boxes line up with each other. Grid lines can also be helpful when lining up objects on the page. (Align / View Gridlines)
- The text box will be anchored to a line in the text. To see which line has the anchor, you can make the anchors visible. Make text format codes visible by clicking on the button on the Home ribbon. When you select a textbox, it's anchor will become visible. Dragging the textbox up and down on the page will change the position of the box and the line to which the box is anchored. Dragging the anchor will also change the anchor position but not the box location (This is easier to see than to explain). Make sure that the box is anchored to the line where the word is located by dragging the box up or down to move the anchor. The text below is an annotation of the word "anchored" in a MS Word document with the format codes visible.
- You can Lock anchor to
prevent anything (e.g. accidental dragging) from moving the textbox at a
- Copy and paste your textbox to annotate additional words. By copying your already formatted text box, you avoid having to modify the format again.
- Your text boxes should move with your text as you make changes, though some minor adjustments may be needed.
Sometimes it is easier to insert a thin, tall textbox in the margin and place annotations there. This is faster, but these annotations won't automatically follow the words that they gloss.
Gloss with images
Images can be inserted, sized, positioned, set to appear in front of text and to be tied to an anchor attached to a line, just like a text box.
Use comments for annotations that will not be visible when printed. Select text to be commented in your document; Review / New Comment.
For further discussion of glossing see:
LeLoup & Ponterio, "Literacy: Reading on the Net," On the Net column in Language Learning & Technology, Vol. 4, No. 2, September 2000, pp. 5-10.
LeLoup & Ponterio, "Interactive and Multimedia Techniques in Online Language Lessons: A Sampler," On the Net column in Language Learning & Technology, Vol. 7, No. 3, September 2003, pp. 4-17