•  A good note taker is someone who:

    a)     Writes down every word

    b)     Uses a tape recorder

    c)      Listens more than he/she writes*

    d)     Listens half the time and writes the other half

    *in a lecture, the ratio of listening to writing should be 90-10.


    Note Taking has four main purposes:
    1. to provide you with a written record of what the instructor said so you can review the material soon thereafter
    2. to force you to pay attention
    3. to provide material to be organized in some effective way, which involves active effort on your part
    4. to provide students the opportunity to condense and rephrase what the instructor is saying, which aids in the understanding of the material.

    Come prepared for a lecture with appropriate materials:

    Before Listening

    While Listening

    Prepare ahead of time – read assigned chapter, re-read notes, etc.

    Think ahead; anticipate what is going to be said

    Avoid distractions – noisy students, open windows, etc.

    Sit where you can hear and see clearly, preferably toward the front of the classroom.

    Listen for ways to relate ides to previous lectures, textbook or experiences.

    Listen for what is being said, not how it’s being said.

    Do not try to write everything down.

    Be ready to participate.

    Look for clues from the professor that indicate what he/she considers important.


    After Listening– review what was said and seek answers to questions that arise.


    Cornell System of Note Taking

    Clue Column

    Note Taking Area


    This format provides the perfect opportunity for following through with the 5 R’s of note taking:
    1. Record - During the lecture, record in the main column as many meaningful facts and ideas as you can.
    2. Reduce - As soon after as possible, summarize these facts and ideas concisely in the Cue Column.  Summarizing clarifies meanings and relationships, reinforces continuity, and strengthens memory. 
    3. Recite - Cover the Note Taking Area, using only your jottings in the Cue Column, say over the facts and ideas of the lecture as fully as you can, not mechanically, but in your own words. Then, verify what you have said.
    4. Reflect - Draw out opinions from your notes and use them as a starting point for your own reflections on the course and how it relates to your other courses. Reflection will help prevent ideas from being inert and soon forgotten.
    5. Review - Spend 10 minutes every week in quick review of your notes, and you will retain most of what you have learned.
    Helpful Tips:
    • Label each page with the date, course and topic.
    • Don't use full sentences, eliminate unnecessary words.
    • Don’t write in paragraphs, use bullets
    • Don’t erase a mistake, draw a line though it. This saves time and you may discover later you want the material.
    • Emphasize important words, use different colors or highlighters, circle box and draw arrows.
    • Use question marks to mark information you did not understand so you can seek further clarification later.
    • If a teacher uses power point, ask if you can have it ahead of time to use as a note-taking guide or at least review it after class.
    Abbreviation Symbols:
    Following is a list of commonly used symbols
                   =                           equals

                   =ly                        equally

                   “ “                         repeat the same information

                   ---->                     causes

                   <----                     is caused by

                   >                           greater than

                   <                           less than

                   //                          parallel

                   +                           more

                   -                            less

                   #                           number

                   %                          percent

                   &                           and

    Words Commonly Abbreviated.
    The following is a list of abbreviations for words and phrases that you will commonly see in textbooks and hear in lectures:
                   c = century

                       re = regarding

                   nec = necessary

                   pt = point

                   syn = synonym

                   i.e. = that is, that is to say

                   sp = spelling

                   incl = including

                   e.g. = for example

                   amt = amount

                   p = page

                   pp = pages

                   cm = compare

                   mn = main

                   nec = necessary

                   chp = chapter

                   vs = versus, or against

                   neg = negative (or -)

                   pos = positive (or +)


    Note taking requires review if it is to be effective. Notes should be reviewed immediately after class, or as soon as possible, to be sure they are:

    Readable: clean up your notes while they are fresh in your mind

    Clear: add comments to make notes clearer, fill in details, mark important ideas, add a summary

    Organize: arrange into lists – compare/contrast or cause/effect

    —    Reread, organize and revise – this reemphasizes what you have learned and aids in your study technique.