• Nicki M. Dakis

How to Take Notes

(Cornell University)




There are many ways to take notes. It's helpful to try out different methods and determine which work best for you in different situations. Whether you are learning online or in person, the physical act of writing can help you remember better than just listening or reading. Research shows that taking notes by hand is more effective than typing on a laptop.


Consider Your Purpose

Before you start taking notes, identify how you will most likely want to use them later. Will you need to:

· Study for a test?

· Provide ideas when you write a paper?

· Develop points for pitching your start-up?

Make your notes work for you, by identifying up-front what you need from them!


What Do You Write?

Students sometimes think they need to write every single thing the professor said. If this is you, be careful! If you focus on capturing every single detail, you might be missing the big picture. If you mostly listen during class and don’t write much down, you need to be careful too—when it comes time to use your notes, you may find that you don’t have much to work with.


What Are Good Notes?

Although different strategies work for different people, efficient note-taking strategies share some common features. Good notes:

· Include meaningful abbreviations and symbols

· Capture both main ideas and important details

· May include definitions, an outline, bullet points, diagrams, etc.

There's no one good way to take notes—knowing what works best for you in different situations will make your studying more effective.


Create Notes You Will Use

Overall, good notes are not necessarily very detailed or very brief—the main thing to remember is that good notes are notes you can use!

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