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Why Do Law Students Love Highlighters?


photo by -Nat

Maybe I’m dense. But I don’t understand why fellow law students use 4-5 different colors of highlighters in their case books. It’s almost an obsession with the brilliant colors in this happy little markers.

Why do I care?

Most of the time, I don’t. I can choose how to highlight in my own books. You choose how to color yours.

But when I buy a used book, this can sometimes be a problem. I guess that’s the price I pay saving some money on text books.

More importantly, I think using lots of highlighter colors is anti-productive.

When I’m reading, I don’t want to think about what sentence or words should be highlighted in what color. Isn’t it just quicker to think “that’s important,” and then highlight it?

Two reasons I change colors

With all that said, my books do have multiple colors in them. But I don’t consider myself a hypocrite.

First, I use a separate color for case names. I’ve found this incredibly useful for cases in the “notes” of case books. Some professors like to discuss these cases in class, and having a distinctive color to scan for makes it quicker to find what the heck they’re talking about.

Second, I sometimes change colors when my highlighter runs dry. I generally prefer orange highlighting for regular text. But I’ve been known to use pink, green, yellow, etc. But I only change colors when a highlighter expires or is lost.

How many colors are in your book?

I’m interested to hear what other people think about this. Do you use lots of colors? What are the benefits? Do you highlight at all?

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9 Responses to “Why Do Law Students Love Highlighters?”

  1. Blaine
    April 12th, 2007

    I only use one color, whatever happens to be in my backpack (my favorites are yellow and blue). I too marvel at the people who use 4 or 5 colors in a single case. How much time do they waste picking up and putting down highlighters? Do the different colors actually help them understand or remember the text better?

    In my experience, the people who do that much highlighting don’t brief the cases, so maybe that’s why they do it.

  2. Andrew Flusche
    April 12th, 2007


    I’m absolutely with you on this. Dealing with 4-5 colors must take lots of time, and I don’t see how it adds value to the reading of the case.

    Although, I don’t actually brief cases, so I’m not sure if I’m a good example of great reading practices. 😉