The Ultimate Guide to Note-Taking - Deepstash

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The Outline/List

Is a linear method of taking notes that proceeds down the page, using indentation or bullets to denote major and minor points.

Pros: it records content relationship in a way that is easy to review.

Cons: difficult to go back and edit information written in this system.

Works for: recording terms, definitions, facts and sequences, when taking notes on slides or readings.

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12.1K reads

The Sentence Method

The goal is to jot down your thoughts as quickly as possible. Format is kept to a minimum: every new thought is written on a new line. 

Pros: Is like free writing for notes.

Cons: lack organization and notes can be hard to understand.

Works for: meetings or lectures that lack organization; when information is presented very quickly.

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7.09K reads

SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review)

  • Skim the material for bolded text, images, summaries, to produce a list of headlines;
  • Each headline is then written in the form of a question;
  • Record your “answers” to the reading questions under each corresponding header;
  • Once you’ve finished reading the text, write a summary of the material from memory—this is the “recite” part of the process. 
  • Finally, review your notes to make sure you’ve completely grasped the concepts.

Works for: dense written material.

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7.55K reads

Visual mapping

A nonlinear system of note-taking that resembles a tree and root structure: ideas stem from one major concept and are connected by lines (or “branches”).

Pros: works well for visual learners; is tool for analytical-thinkers, because it outlines connections.

Cons: Time consuming; can get complex, doesn't work in every circumstances.

Works for: big-picture brainstorming sessions, planning essays and recording meetings.

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6.53K reads

Smart Wisdom

Instead of taking notes in full sentences, you record only keywords and place them in a chain that maps the thought process, written on a web-like grid, starting in the 1 o’clock position and working clockwise. 

Pros: allows you to take notes in “real time”.

Cons: few sources for learning how to use it.

Works for: meetings and lectures; dyslexic learners.

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6.71K reads

Timelines

Timelines

A continuum of dates and events. 

However, timelines need not be limited to two-dimensions. Timelines can be multidimensional (i.e., date, relevant event, another event). 

Work for: recording history or biography, but they can also be used to compare and contrast similar events. 

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Flow-chart

Flow-chart

Represented by individual steps that start from a problem and lead to a solution. 

Each step is denoted by a different kind of shape which symbolizes whether the note requires action or decision. Unlike the timeline, a flow chart can veer in multiple directions, leading to different scenarios.

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4.59K reads

Venn diagram

Usually comprise overlapping circle that represent sets. A set includes items that all share a specific characteristic. 

Although there is no limit to the number of sets you compare, complicated Venn diagrams can be difficult to interpret

Works for: comparing and contrasting notes.

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4.3K reads

Fishbone diagram

  • Identify the main problem (effect) and write this in a box center left of the page. 
  • Draw a thick horizontal arrow pointing to this box - the head and spine of the fish
  • Then brainstorm categories of causes that could lead to this effect. 
  • For each of these causes, draw a line branching off of the main arrow

Works for: marketing, manufacturing or service industry for product design and quality defect prevention.

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5.45K reads

Adapting to context

Different types of information demand different styles of note-taking. There are lots of reasons to take notes: to retain information, to capture ideas, to problem solve or brainstorm, to visualize complex systems or concepts etc.

But what works for outlining a blog post might not work so great for brainstorming new ideas.

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