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Effective Note Taking Strategies 

There are many different ways to take notes. It is recommended that students take hand written notes rather than using a laptop.  This is because the brain processes the information in order to be able to write it. When using a laptop, students tend to try to type every word and get caught up in the act of typing rather than listening and processing the information.

Ideal notes are easy to organize and quick to review.  They should help speed up learning and promote self-testing.  Don’t forget to use charts, sketches and diagrams when possible in the notes.

 Note-Taking Tips

1.      Focus on main ideas and details. Don’t try to write down every word.

2.      Use abbreviations or shortened versions of words whenever possible.

  • For example, ex. can replace the word example
  • # can be used for the word number
  • b/f can stand for before

3.      Listen and then write rather than trying to do both at the same time.

4.      If your professor writes something on the board then

  • repeats it several times
  • states that the information is not in the book
  • says that the information is important
  • then WRITE IT DOWN

5.      Highlight with caution

  • highlighting in textbooks is not recommended because students:
    • can’t decide what to highlight
    • end up highlighting too much text
    • become confused about what's important
  • Highlighting may lead to a false sense of knowing and not knowing what to study
  • Highlighting notes or other study materials can be beneficial

6.      Add sketches, charts, diagrams, graphs etc. to notes to help make meaning of the information.


For specific note taking strategies, see the slideshow below.