Note Making

Learning to make notes effectively will help you to improve your study and work habits and to remember important information. Often, students are deceived into thinking that because they understand everything that is said in class they will therefore remember it. This ls dead wrong! Write it down.

As you make notes, you will develop skill in selecting important material and in discarding unimportant material. The secret to developing this skill is practice. Check your results constantly. Strive to improve. Notes enable you to retain important facts and data and to develop an accurate means of arranging necessary information.

Here are some hints on note making.

  1. Don't write down everything that you read or hear. Be alert and attentive to the main points. Concentrate on the "meat" of the subject and forget the trimmings.
  2. Notes should consist of key words or very short sentences.
  3. Take accurate notes. You should usually use your own words, but try not to change the meaning. If you quote directly from an author, quote correctly.
  4. Think a minute about your material before you start making notes. Don't take notes just to be taking notes! Take notes that will be of real value to you when you look over them at a later date.
  5. Have a uniform system of punctuation and abbreviation that will make sense to you. Use a skeleton outline and show importance by indenting. Leave lots of white space for later additions.
  6. Omit descriptions and full explanations. Keep your notes short and to the point. Condense your material so you can grasp it rapidly.
  7. Don't worry about missing a point.
  8. Don't keep notes on oddly shaped pieces of paper. Keep notes in order and in one place.
  9. Shortly after making your notes, go back and rework (not redo) your notes by adding extra points and spelling out unclear items. Remember, we forget rapidly. Budget time for this vital step just as you do for the class itself. 
  10. Review your notes regularly. This is the only way to achieve lasting memory.

Adapted from ©Academic Skills Center, Darmouth College 2001

Saving Time on Notetaking

Rewriting/Typing Notes: Uses a double amount of time; once to take the original notes and a second to rewrite them. The advice is simple: DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!

NOTE: Recording lecture presents similar problem ... must transcribe before you can study them.