Best ways to take notes

Listed below are some plain and simple ways to easy note taking. Remember there is no single best or right way of note taking. Each student is unique; making his/her style of note taking different from any one else. One needs to experiment with different styles of note taking to find the one best suited to them.

1. Use Roman Numerals/Capital Letters/Numbers to indicate topics
Roman Numerals (I, II etc) can be used to indicate main headings, capital letters (A, B etc) to indicate topics of discussion and numbers (1,2,3 etc) to indicate sub-topics. Keep the notes for one class separate from other classes.

2. Use Visuals and Maps
Visuals/ Mapping allow you to capture the broad picture. If you are creative and can think fast, you can draw out a map or flow chart to define what you think. Make your notes as brief as possible. Never use a sentence when you can use a phrase or a phrase when you can use a word or a picture.

3. Listen well
Listen for cues as to important points, transition form one point to the next, repetition of points for emphasis, changes in voice modulation, enumeration of a series of points, etc. Some students find it impossible to note take and listen at the same time. If you are good at listening, take notes after the lecture. However try to listen with an open mind. Don't jump to conclusions or make assumptions before you hear all the information.

4. Underline, punctuate, circle, or use shapes to highlight information
When the teacher resorts to textbook teaching, underline or highlight important words along the way. Using highlights, numbers, arrows or other symbols helps you to clarify and evaluate the information later. If the teacher’s style of teaching is through power point presentations, take a copy of the notes and add your own points onto it. Never forget to put the current date and topic of the lecture.

5. Compare others notes/ Combine notes from your text with your class notes
At the end of a lecture, gather a few friends and compare or swap notes. Else get hold of a textbook and try and form notes while the information is still fresh in your mind. Remember to copy everything on the blackboard and transparencies, especially the outline.

6. Special notation system like abbreviation or color-coding
Use colour pens to find a link in your note taking or to mark important points. Use of abbreviations will help you note take quickly. Find innovative ways to abbreviate. Box assignments and suggested books so you can identify them quickly.

7. Creativity
Bring on the creativity while taking notes. Eg In the middle of the page draw a circle and write all what the professor is saying, then with arrows, lines etc write your doubts, ideas, points outside the circle so that its comes to your attention while studying. Another way is to divide your page into half and on the left side you write what the teacher says and then on the right side you put your thoughts, ideas, questions etc..

8. Key words
Use Keywords every now and then to catch your attention. You can write down keywords during the lecture and fill in the details later on. . Leave a few spaces blank as you move from one point to the next so that you can fill in additional points later if necessary.

9. Get a tape recorder
If you find yourself constantly day dreaming and unable to concentrate during the lecture and bored to take notes, then get yourself a digital voice recorder or a minidisk recorder so that the information is gathered point by point.

10. Go to class prepared
Read assigned material and previous class notes before attending the lecture. In this way you will have a better understanding about what the instructor is lecturing about and that will allow you to better decipher the more important points of the lecture.

Happy Note Taking!