The central dogma of gene expression entails the flow of genetic information from DNA to RNA, then to protein. Decades of studies on epigenetics have characterized an additional layer of information, where epigenetic states help to shape differential utilization of genetic information. Orchestrating conditional gene expressions to elicit a defined phenotype and function, epigenetics states distinguish different cell types or maintain a long-lived memory of past signals. Packaging the genetic information in the nucleus of the eukaryotic cell, chromatin provides a large regulatory repertoire that capacitates the genome to give rise to many distinct epigenomes. We will discuss how reversible, heritable functional annotation mechanisms in chromatin may have evolved from basic chemical diversification of the underlying molecules.