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Effective Note-Taking Strategies

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

Tips for Note-Taking

Here are some quick tips that can help keep your notes on track:

  • Write clearly.  Your notes will not be effective if you cannot read them!
  • If you are taking notes from a recorded lecture or video, you can pause the video to gather your thoughts and write down ideas.
  • Use blank paper space to separate topics, especially if the instructor moves on to a new topic during class ("Chapter 11: Note-Taking Strategies," n.d.)
  • Stay organized by keeping notes and handouts for each class separated ("Chapter 11: Note-Taking Strategies," n.d.).
  • Abbreviate to write faster
  • Use a color coding system with highlighters or colored pens to highlight the most important material and to categorize concepts.
  • Group together similar concepts to make memorization easier ("Chapter 11: Note-Taking Strategies," n.d.).
  • Refer to the class syllabus for context
  • Use study guides and review materials to aid in reviewing the material
  • Listen for key phrases in a lecture that indicate that the following information is significant (Frank, 2017).
    • "This will likely be on an exam."
    • "This concept will help you understand the next chapter."
    • "Pay attention, this next slide is important."
  • Pay attention to a lecturer if they repeat the same information.   If they do, this is a good sign that it is critical information to write down.
  • Keep the format of your notes consistent.  Switching between different note-taking strategies and formats can get confusing, especially if you have several pages.