Note making

Why make notes?

  • To aid concentration, focus, understanding & recall
  • To identify patterns, structures and relationships in the material
  • To enable later reference for exams or assignments

Making notes involves

  • Reading & listening critically
  • Relating ideas to other information, your questions & purpose for reading
  • Deciding how to select, summarise, categorise & use information

What to note

  • Keywords: thesis, major characters, main idea(s)
  • Important details or facts
  • Things to follow up: questions, references & further links

Suggestions for making notes

  • Leave plenty of space – don’t crowd the page
  • Devise a logical and memorable way to set out notes to aid recall
  • Format using letters, abbreviations & acronyms, numbers, bullets, highlighting, colour, underlining, indentation, columns, diagrams, headings & subheadings

Setting out notes

Various ways. Skeleton (as above) is common. Other methods include keyword, Cornell & mind maps:

Keywords Further details Supporting material

Page layout

3 columns

Limited space


Arrange under heading Sorts info Essential material only
Think more, write less Aids learning More listening time in lecture
Good for notes from text Use page numbers pp. 365-369


(Cue column)

Record (lecture 15/3/07)

(Note-taking column)

How do you set it up?

a) Structured format

  • Page layout
  • 3 sections – record, recall, review
How do you use it?

b) Method

  • In class, Record notes in any method you like
  • After class, add material, write recall questions (cue column) and summarise (review)

c) Advantages

  • Develops good habit
  • Limits detail
  • Allows for additional material

d) Use as study tool

  • Saves time
  • Cues thinking

Review (Summary space)

Cornell uses a structured 3-section format. Record space is for in-class notes. After class use other spaces for Recall words/questions and Review. Leave opposite page blank for addition of materials. Establishes study routine, prompts thinking, effective, time saving.

Mind maps

Mind map sample

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