I'm confused by those three words, especially between "notation" and "annotation". When choose one over else? And why?

I did a search, find this - Is there a difference between “note-taking” & “notation”?, but, it's not what I'm looking for.


3 Answers 3


Note-taking, part of your question, is a process of writing down notes--usually a brief summary--of the content of a lecture or a book as you hear or read it. It is a record of an event in more formal situations, e.g., where the note-taker is recording an interview with a source (a politician, for example) for later summary in, perhaps, a news story.

A note is a very broad word, and can refer to a note that adds an item to a shopping list (don't forget bread!), a note reminding someone to do something, a musical note, a brief note to a friend about upcoming plans. It could refer to short essay on a limited subject, e.g., "A Note on the Use of the Color Yellow in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

A notation is likely to be a note on a written document (whether a musical script, printed book, or handwritten letter); If the notes so written are systematic comments throughout the document, we may say that the book has been notated or, usually, annotated. Thus there exist annotated bibliographies and annotated versions of The Code of Hammurabi, Shakespeare's Plays, Plato's Republic, Beowulf, Chaucer, and various other literary or philosophical works where such commentary may be helpful or enlightening to the reader.

When formally prepared to explain the texts that are notated or annotated, the annotations go beyond hand-written notes in the margin. Marginal notes, if written by well-known people, are often considered valuable; they're called marginalia.

I would be glad at some later date to locate and link to definitions from various places, but Thanksgiving calls.


Chess is a very old game. Fortunately for us, a long time ago, people invented chess notation to record their games. We can use chess notation to travel back in time and watch games played last century! Just like musical notation records musical notes, chess notation records chess moves. Chess annotation was used to elaborate on certain positions and facilitate learning. Note my obsession with chess! To end this on a positive note I'm going to tell you a little joke.

Two musical notes walk into a bar.
C# asks B♭, "What's the difference between a piano, a tuna and a pot of glue?
B♭, without thinking to much about it, says, "I don't know, what is it?"
C# replies, "You can tuna piano but you can't piano a tuna!"
B♭ starts to laugh. Then he suddenly stops, "Wait! But what about the glue?"
C# says, "I knew you'd get stuck there!"
B♭ says, "This guy said that we can use chess notation to watch games played last century."
C#, "Yeah. So?"
B♭, "The year 2000 was last century!!"

notation is simply a synonym for note, but annotation is some kind of a comment on a note.

further clarification,

As stated in here, http://wikidiff.com/annotation/notation,

As nouns the difference between annotation and notation is that, "annotation is a critical or explanatory commentary or analysis while notation is (uncountable) the act, process, method, or an instance of representing by a system or set of marks, signs, figures, or characters."

  • If the answer helped, please be kind enough to select as answer and if it didn't please share your thoughts or the answer you've come across.
    – RukshanJS
    Nov 23, 2017 at 7:04
  • Wikidiff is a computer-generated comparison that usually produces very poor results.
    – Xanne
    Nov 23, 2017 at 7:33
  • No, an annotation is not something added to describe a note.
    – Xanne
    Nov 23, 2017 at 8:05
  • Annotation is something ADDED to DESCRIBE a NOTE, to better understand it or to elaborate on something that would otherwise not visible in the first glance. As @q-l-p stated, in music the word notation is used in common to refer to the sheets of music that contain the "musical notes." Don't confuse the "Musical Note" with the General idea of the word "Note". Annotations are widely used in chess notation.(? - mistake move etc. For details on annotations (for example in chess), en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_annotation_symbols.
    – RukshanJS
    Nov 23, 2017 at 8:12
  • @Xanne If so, could you please clarify your answer.
    – RukshanJS
    Nov 23, 2017 at 8:21

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