If you’re having trouble using annotations, please consult these instructions first. If you can’t find an answer or have spotted something that’s not working, please email with a precise description of the problem, including screenshots, what kind of machine you’re using, your operating system (including version), and your browser (version for that, too, please). The more specific, the better. We really appreciate it.

How to use annotations

To read annotations, hover over any paragraph and click the quote bubble that appears off to the right. On tablets and phones, of course, you can’t hover, so just tap on a paragraph and then the quote bubble. We’ll show you a few annotations right away; if there are more, you’ll be prompted to click to load them in a larger window.

You need to be logged-in to leave an annotation. Click on the prompt to log in, and follow the instructions. You can use an existing Quartz account, create a new one, or log in with Twitter. If you choose Twitter, we’ll use your avatar and include your Twitter handle.

Some details to be aware of

Annotations are limited to 280 characters. Yes, that’s two tweets.

We require you to use your real name. Not that we’ll really know if you’re using a pseudonym, but we’d really rather you didn’t. You can always email your thoughts to and tell us that you’d like to remain anonymous.

You can only use plain text in annotations. No italics or bold or links—not even blink tags! But you are welcome and encouraged to include a single URL in the field at the bottom of the input box. That’s a good place to cite a reference or supporting evidence.

To share a direct link to an annotation, click on the share button. You can use Twitter or Facebook, or just copy-and-paste the URL that’s provided.

To flag an annotation as inappropriate, click on the flag button. We’ll be notified, and will take a look to see if the annotation should be removed.

Replies are contained below each annotation. They work very similarly to annotations and have the same constraints, but you can’t include a link.

How we review annotations

Annotations are visible on the site as soon as they are submitted. We just include a notation saying that the annotation hasn’t been reviewed yet.

We look at every new annotation. That’s because we want to absorb all your wisdom, respond when appropriate, and remove stuff that’s off-topic or abusive. We approve any annotation that makes a substantive contribution, and we don’t shy away from criticism. It may take us some time to review your annotation.

You’ll notice that some annotations are featured. They are visible as larger quote bubbles with the user’s avatar. We feature annotations that make an important contribution to the article—a counterargument, additional information, or further reading. To avoid cluttering the page, though, we rarely feature more than one annotation per article.

Issues to watch out for

The current release of annotations is in beta. We spent a lot of time building, testing, and reworking annotations before launching it on the site. But the real work begins now that many more people are using it, and we can see what’s really working and what’s not. We’ll use your feedback and bug reports to improve the feature over time.

You may encounter paragraphs that can’t be annotated. Almost all paragraphs in new articles should be activated for annotations, but on occasion, you won’t see a quote bubble off to the right. That may be due to a bug we’re working to fix, or it could be because the paragraph is too short (under 50 characters).

You can’t edit your annotation after it publishes. We’re working on tools to let you delete and perhaps edit your annotations, but for now, annotations are set in stone. So proofread!

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