The Ultimate Note Taking Guide

Ever wondered how to create the perfect notes from your lectures and textbooks? Well here’s how!

Taking notes can often seem quite boring but for a university student, they are an essential part of everyday learning.

When you come to write an assignment and you think to yourself, ‘What was the name of that key theorist from that lecture a few weeks back???’, then the perfect set of notes will ease your problems!

So here goes...

Top Tip no. 1: Highlight or annotate any handouts that you are given. It is highly likely you’ll forget exactly what the handout means when you return to look at it, so writing down or highlighting any key information at the time will draw your eye to what you need at a later date.

Top Tip no. 2: Only write down the essentials. If you know you’ve got an upcoming assignment, think about what key information you might need for it when taking your notes.

Top Tip no. 3: Create your own abbreviations. For example, instead of writing 19th century, write 19c . Try not to use such abbreviations through all your notes as I’m pretty sure they won’t all make sense when you look back through them!

Top Tip no. 4: Be prepared. Get highlighters, different coloured pens, paper, some food inside you and a bottle of water! Good note taking can take time as it is key, especially when scanning textbooks and articles, that you really identify the relevant information.

Top Tip no. 5: Make it as fun as possible. As I said, it can be a lengthy process, therefore using bright coloured pens, playing some quiet, relaxing music in the process will make it more enjoyable.

Top Tip no. 6: Keep yourself organised. Particularly if you are taking notes for a dissertation or research project, it is a great idea to get yourself a box and some small notecards. Therefore, any theorists or journals you reference can be easily stored and returned to. You can then file them accordingly to areas of your topic. Believe me, this can ease stress when you have 1 hour left before your deadline and are looking for that last minute reference!

Top Tip no. 7: Keep your notes until you’ve graduated. It is very easy to think, ‘Yes, that assignment done, let’s get rid of all those notes!’ but WAIT! You never know when you might return to this topic again in another year of study or perhaps there are some references which would help get your next assignment grade from an A to an A+!

Top Tip no. 8: And finally, use whatever layout suits you best. There isn’t a template I can give you to say use this every time when taking notes. Whether it is spider diagrams, bullet points, small picture drawings, abbreviations or many other options, find out which method suits you. Next time you’re in a lecture, have a go trialling some of these methods. Then, when you feel comfortable in one particular method, keep going with it! J
So there you are, the ultimate note taking guide! Many of these tips have worked for myself, they’re quick, easy to do and memorable, so give it a go!


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