5 Tips to Take Good Notes

Are you hoping to become a better notetaker, but aren’t quite sure how to do it?

Taking notes can help you study and better retain information. But some of us just aren’t natural-born notetakers. How do you improve your notetaking skills?

Check out this guide to learn how to take good notes.

1. Take Your Notes By Hand

Unless you’re taking notes on someone else’s behalf, it’s much better to take your notes by hand.

This is because studies show that we retain information better when we write things down on paper vs typing things out digitally. You may worry that you won’t be able to keep up when handwriting your notes, but don’t worry, there are tricks that can help you (more on that next).

2. Don’t Write Down Everything Being Said

During class, it can be tempting to try and write down everything the professor says. But, this just isn’t feasible, nor is it necessary.

Instead of trying to copy everything down verbatim, focus on what your professor is saying and then summarize the main points in your notes. You can then supplement the main ideas with one or two specific examples from class.

If your professor regularly uses PowerPoint during lectures, you can ask for a copy of the slides beforehand. Then, during class, take notes on what’s not written on the slides. Typically, your professor’s own insight will provide you with valuable information when it comes to understanding key concepts.

3. Make Up Your Own Shorthand

Creating your own shorthand can really help you keep up with the speed of the lecture.

Instead of writing in complete sentences, stick with short phrases and abbreviate words wherever you can. If there are certain words that keep coming up in the lecture, make up your own abbreviation for them. For example, let’s say the lecture is about photosynthesis. Instead of writing this word out every time, you can abbreviate it to PS.

You should also make a glossary for all of your abbreviations so you don’t lose track of what everything stands for.

4. Get Organized

If you’re just scribbling notes down haphazardly on crumpled paper, you’re not going to get much out of your note-taking process. To make notetaking more effective (and fun) you need to get organized.

Here are some tips:

  • Don’t just write in black ink, use different pens for different ideas
  • Make use of highlighters
  • If you’re good at drawing, make small doodles next to your notes to help you further understand concepts
  • Use side tab dividers to separate and organize your notes
  • Date and title your notes

These tips will make your notes a lot easier to digest when it comes time to study.

5. Review Your Notes Right Away

Most students are accustomed to taking notes and then not looking at them again until it’s time to study for an exam.

If this is what you’re doing, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. By reviewing your notes right away, you’ll ensure that everything stays fresh in your mind.

Also, if there was any point where your penmanship got sloppy, it’s a lot easier to decipher your handwriting right after class when the material is fresh than a month down the road. You may even want to go back and highlight important info or rewrite your notes completely so you can elaborate on details you didn’t get a chance to expound upon earlier.

Are You Ready to Take Good Notes?

Now that you know how to take good notes, it’s time to get started. Pretty soon, you’ll be the best notetaker in class.

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