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Write: Note Taking

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Note taking
Good note taking skills can help you to quickly and efficiently gather information from a variety of written sources. To save time and effort it helps to have a clear focus. Take notes to:

  • Select
  • Understand
  • Remember

When you are reading and researching an assignment, only take notes that are relevant to the question. Things to check to save time and effort include:

  • The year of publication - is the info up to date?
  • The contents page - are there chapters devoted to your question?
  • The introduction - does it give an overview of the subject
  • The beginning and the end of relevant chapters - this helps you to decide whether to spend time reading the whole chapter.

How to take notes
How to begin taking notes:

  • Write down the reference details eg author, date, place of publication, publisher, page numbers etc
  • Use your own words to summarise the information. This will help you to better understand the information.
  • Check that each note is directly relevant to your assignment or topic.
  • Put quotation marks “  ” around exact quotes so this will be clear to you if you go back to your notes later.

Organising your notes 
Keep your notes organised by:

  • Use main and sub headings and numbered lists.
  • Use keywords to describe each note.
  • Use colour to categorise notes or headings.

Notes can help you understand concepts and topics. To help this process you can:

  • Underline or highlight important words or sentences. This helps you stay focused.
  • Use your own words to summarise points, use abbreviations and add your own comments. If you develop your own consistent style you will save time and effort.

Notes can help you remember. It is easier to remember information when you use keywords instead of whole phrases or sentences. Using keywords throughout your notes also makes revision easier.

  • Choose keywords that represent crucial facts or core concepts as they are easier to remember.
  • Choose keywords that will trigger your memory.
  • Test your recall of keywords regularly.

Some people like to colour-code their notes and keywords, others like to draw diagrams to highlight relationships between keywords and concepts. Develop your own style of note taking to make life easier.

[The text above is based on that provided by the University of Leicester]


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Want to learn more?

If you want to learn more about note taking have a look at this online tutorial - [The tutorial is from the University of Leicester].

Note-taking involves taking notes from speech eg taking notes in class as a teacher speaks. Note-making involves making notes from a book eg when researching an assignment.
This tutorial focuses on making notes from a text.