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The Ultimate Guide to Note-Taking

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The Ultimate Guide to Note-Taking
No matter what your profession, there are lots of reasons to take notes. You take notes to retain information from things you hear - like meetings and presentations. You take notes to capture facts or ideas (e.g., interviews, itineraries, something said in passing, etc.). You take notes to problem solve or brainstorm.

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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 tha...

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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 wr...

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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 “ans...

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Visual mapping

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...

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Smart Wisdom

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 wo...

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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). 

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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 act...

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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 compa...

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Fishbone diagram

  • Identify the main problem (effect) and write this in a box center left of the page. 
  • Draw a thick horizontal arrow pointing t...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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 visualiz...

The Outline method

The Outline method

It requires you to structure your notes in form of an outline by using bullet points to represent different topics and their subtopics. 

Start writing main topics on the far left ...

The Cornell Method

  • The page is divided into 3 or 4 sections (top for title and, bottom for summary, 2 columns in the center).  
  • 30% of width should be kept in the left column while the remaining 70% for the right column.
  • All notes go into the main note-taking column
  • The smaller column on the left side is for comments, questions or hints about the actual notes. 

The Boxing Method

All notes that are related to each other are grouped together in a box. 

A dedicated box is assigned for each section of notes which cuts down the time needed for reading and reviewing.

Apps are especially helpful for this method because content on the page can be reordered or resized subsequently.

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Purpose of taking notes

Note-taking serves one simple purpose: to help you remember information. 

Although we might associate note-taking with school, it's something most of us continue doing for the bul...

Keep your notes simple

Keep them short, but have enough triggers in the keywords to jumpstart your memory when you look at them again:

  • Stick to keywords and very short sentences.
  • Write out your notes in your own words.
  • Find a note-taking style to fit both your needs and the speakers.
  • Write down what matters.

Outdated techniques

Rereading your notes, highlighting them, underlining them, and even summarizing them  - all take a lot of your time.

Better methods include taking breaks and spreading out your studying (known as distributed practice), and taking practice tests (which isn't really applicable outside of school).