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Effective Note-Taking Strategies

This guide contains information on how to effectively take notes for future reference.

What should good notes have?

Regardless of the strategy you use, effective notes should contain the following elements:

  • A title for the section or page of notes you are taking
  • The date you took the notes, or the date of the lesson/lecture
  • The lecture or resource's main ideas (preferably in your own words)
  • Definitions of any key words relevant to the lesson

Each of these elements ensures that you are not only keeping the notes organized, but you are recording the most important information for maximum efficiency.  It also makes the notes easy to reference in the future when you are studying, completing an assignment, or using them for a project.

Questions to Consider

If you can answer "yes" to the following questions about your notes, then it is a sign that your notes will be effective (Academic & Career Development Center," n.d.):

  • Are my notes legible and understandable?
  • Can I explain my notes clearly to someone else?
  • Do my notes help me remember the lecture or lesson?
  • Would my notes help me prepare for exams?