Note-taking for classes, meetings, studying, or research is a skill you develop over time. Use any note-taking style that works best for you. Experience with different formats, combine them, or improvise to create your style.
As a student, I was always a good note-taker. I had to live up to my last name, of course! Over time, I developed systems to help me document meetings, share ideas, and write books and articles.
Here are some strategies to improve your note-taking habits:
Experiment to see if prefer to write or type your notes.
Make key points stand out.
Circle, underline, or color-code key words and ideas.
Make notes more concise by leaving out unessential words and by using abbreviations, arrows, and symbols.
Show how ideas are connected, such as by using the mind map style.
Organize notes using boxes, arrows, exclamation marks, and other symbols.
Use colors, highlighters, and visuals, if helpful.
Compare your notes with others studying the same subject; they may have captured information that you haven’t.
Write as if you were capturing information for a friend unfamiliar with your topic. How can you explain the information clearly for future reference? When I was an undergraduate, I earned money taking notes in class for students with learning disabilities. Because I was taking notes for someone else, I made sure to be as clear as possible.
Take notes twice. For example, I write down everything I can capture on the fly for business calls. I later transfer these notes, neatly and better organized, into my business notebook for posterity.
Keep practicing. Note-taking is a skill that requires regular development.
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