The Dual Entry Journal


This note-taking strategy is all about getting your fingerprints all over the text. As students who will read and write about increasingly more difficult texts, you want to do more than just glide over the text, decoding with ease, but making only limited amounts of meaning. You want to be able to handle the text, take it apart, manipulate it, look for its heart, find out what makes it tick, chunk it into meaningful bits and then interrogate each bit.


            The Dual Entry Journals is one way to help you read with an investigating eye. It helps you to slow down, pay attention, and actively investigate and analyze when you read. (Where did students get the idea that the best readers were the fastest readers?) In short, Dual Entry Journals teach students the critical art of close reading.


            Below, you’ll see two samples of the Dual Entry Journal.  The first sample is the generic strategy: you can use and modify this note-taking strategy with virtually any text you’ll need to read closely in your college career and beyond.  The second sample is the strategy modified for Project A: A Comparison of a Popular and an Academic Source. 


Sample 1: Different Ways to Keep a Basic Dual Entry Journal


Left Hand Side

Right Hand Side

Quotes from the text

Visual commentary (drawings, visual analogies, doodles)


Quotes from the text

Written reactions, reflections, commentary, musings (“Hmmm…”)


Quotes from the text


Ø      Text to text

Ø      Text to Self

Ø      Text to world


Observations, details revealed by close reading



What the text says…

Why the text says this…


Questions: “I wonder why…”

Possible answers: “Maybe because…”

Quotes from texts

Questions (Clarifying & Probing)


Quotes from texts

Social Questions (Race, class, gender inequalities)


Quotes from texts



Quotes from texts

Naming Literary or Persuasive (Rhetorical) Techniques





Sample 2: The Dual Entry Journal Modified for Project A


The purpose of the modification here for Project A is to help teach the skill of critically investigating your sources.  Virtually no information is inherently “good” or “bad” (even Wikipedia), but you must be able to question your sources and put their facts, theories, and analyses into context.  What points are they trying to make?  Whose interests do their points serve?  How can you verify the facts they use, or more importantly, how they interpret, or make meaning from a large set of facts?  Do they stand in opposition to other sources, and so on.  This skill is intended to open the doors to those types of questions.  As successful students, you’ll continue to ask such questions, and this note-taking strategy will help you organize those high-level thoughts.


Left Side: Paragraph summaries and quotes

Right Side: Rhetorical (style & argument) analysis of left side ~ Response side

Textual features: title, by line, publication, publication date, pictures, graphs

  • A comment about how the title differs from the other source; is it more thought provoking or is it specific and informational?
  • A comment about the use of pictures or lack thereof; what seems to be the purpose of pictures or graphs?
  • A comment about context: based on the publication, what can you find out about what type of information this publication typically produces?  Is there a political leaning?  Who funds this publication?  How does this publication get money – is it a for-profit publication or not, and how does this matter?
  • A comment about the significance of the place of publication.
  • A comment about the respective authors—what can you find out from savvy Internet research about each author?  Can you get each author’s resume?  Titles of past publications?  Organizations each are associated with?

Summary of paragraph 1-2

  • A comment about how evidence is organized or used here

Selected quote from paragraph 1

·         Your response about the style of the sentence.  Is the diction more sensational or is it cautious and specific?  Does this source use much unexplained jargon (terminology), assuming the audience already knows the meaning?

Summary of paragraph 3

  • A comment about how evidence is organized or used here, perhaps in comparison to the other source
  • A comment about who the assumed audience is
  • A comment about purpose: is this text attempting to persuade?

Summary of paragraph 4-5

  • Any combination of the above

Important quote from paragraph 5

  • Any combination of the above, and points certainly awarded for creativity!  What other “questions for the text” can you come up with?  Be investigative of your text—don’t make assumptions.