Note-Taking Tips

A Few Tips on Taking Notes

  • Come early and sit in the front of the class to hold your attention.
  • Be sure to include the date and the title of your course on the top of your notes.
  • If available, print PowerPoints and take them to class to use a paper on which to write notes.
  • Use abbreviations (e.g., "with" = "w/", "+" = "and" and "plus"), but be sure to include a "key" so your notes can be understood later.
  • Listen and write down any information that is repeated or emphasized. Listen for keywords such as "important", "finally", "in summary", or "know for your exam".
  • Leave white space between notes so you can go back and fill in any information you missed or didn't understand.
  • Use a tape recorder with a counter to assist with note taking. Reset your recorder to zero and begin recording when the class begins. If something is said that you would like to hear again or you missed something, just look at your recorder and write down the number so you can listen to that section of the recording again.
  • If the lecture is moving fast, write down key nouns and verbs and leave write space to fill in the gaps.

There are several systems devoted to becoming a better note taker. One such system, the Cornell Note Taking System, was developed by by Walter Pauk, an education professor at Cornell University. The Cornell method provides a format for organizing and reviewing notes. A Cornell Note Taking video is available that provides a general overview of using this system. Cornell Note Taking Templates are also available from Microsoft.