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How To Take Study Notes: 5 Effective Note Taking Methods

The Outlining Method

The Outlining Method

Use headings and bullet points with supporting facts.

  • During a lesson, begin your notes with a bullet point for the main topic.
  • The first subtopic is placed below and indented slightly to the right.
  • Jot down the details below your heading and slightly to the right.

This method is useful when a topic includes a lot of detail.

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How To Take Study Notes: 5 Effective Note Taking Methods

How To Take Study Notes: 5 Effective Note Taking Methods

https://www.oxfordlearning.com/5-effective-note-taking-methods/

oxfordlearning.com

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Key Ideas

The Cornell Method

Divide your paper into three sections: a 2.5” margin to the left, a 2” summary section on the bottom, and a main 6” section.

  • The main 6" section is used for note-taking during class.
  • The 2.5" margin to the left is the cues section. Use this space to write down ideas you'll need to remember. Add a prompt for each. Include vocabulary words and study questions here.
  • The 2" summary section at the bottom is where you'll highlight the main points.

The advantages of this method are notes that are neatly organized and summarized.

The Mapping Method

The page is organized by topic. While in class, start with the main topic. Branch off and write a heading for each of the subtopics. Add important notes underneath each subtopic.

This method is useful for visual learners. It helps you understand the relationships between topics.

The Outlining Method

Use headings and bullet points with supporting facts.

  • During a lesson, begin your notes with a bullet point for the main topic.
  • The first subtopic is placed below and indented slightly to the right.
  • Jot down the details below your heading and slightly to the right.

This method is useful when a topic includes a lot of detail.

The Charting Method

Divide the page into 3 columns and label each column by category. Fill the details of each category in the rows below.

This method is useful for lessons that cover a lot of facts or relationships between topics.

The Sentence Method

This method involves jotting down important information on each topic. Each line on the page is a separate topic. Use headings for each main topic.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Note Taking - Starter Tips

Preparation steps before a note-taking session:

  • Try to get familiar with the topic that is going to be discussed, beforehand. This leads to better understanding.
  • M...
Outline Method

Taking a structured approach to note-taking is the best way. Put the outline notes by choosing four or five key points of the lecture, followed by in-depth sub-points. One way to review is to use the Cornell Method, which divides the note sheet into three sections:

  • Cues: It includes key questions and main points.
  • Notes: Which you write during the class using the outline method. 
  • Summary: Which you can write after class while reviewing.

The Mind Map

The mind map is a visual diagram of abstract concepts.

It works best in subjects like chemistry, history and philosophy, subjects having a neural network like interlocked and complex topics. 

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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...

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.

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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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).

Organize Your Research
Organize Your Research

Use your bedroom floor to make piles of all the papers, dividing them into different segments or chapters. 

Some of them will overlap into multiple segments and that can also be taken ca...

Code And Sort

Create a topic of your research assignment along with the subtopics labeled as A, B, C, D etc. Each topic can now be a different pile, separated with the help of sticky notes.

Now sort all your papers according to the piles, and when they are complete, start to label each piece of research with a letter and a number. So Your papers would be labeled like A1, A2, B1, B3 and so on.

Piles of Notes

Place your piles into separate folders labeled like the subtopics, stapling the sticky notes on the outside of it’s matching folder.

Now you can start writing your paper as you have chronological, topic-wise segregation of all your notes. While writing the paper, do check if the notes are appropriate or can also fit somewhere else. Notes can later be replaced by citations.

Taking Smart Notes

When we take notes, it should not become a stack of forgotten thoughts. Our notes should be a rich and interconnected collection of ideas we can draw on regardless of where our interests lead us.

Luhmann's slip-box

German sociologist Niklas Luhmann (1927-1998) designed his slip-box made up of index cards. They were thematically unlimited. His simple system produced a prolific output. Over his 30-year career,  Luhmann published 58 books and hundreds of articles while completing his two-volume masterwork, The Society of Society (1997).  He regularly pointed to his slip-box as the source for his fantastic productivity.

How Luhmann's slip-box worked
  • He wrote down any interesting or potentially useful ideas on uniformly sized index cards on one side only.
  • Each new index card got a sequential number, starting at 1.
  • When a new source was added to that topic or something to supplement it, he would add new index cards with letters added to the number (1a, 1b, 1c, etc.)
  • These branching connections were marked in red as close as possible, where the branch began.
  • Any of these branches could also have their own branches. (For example 21/3d26g53)
  • As he read, he would create new cards, update or add comments to existing ones, create new branches from existing cards, or create new links between cards.

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Meta-Learning

It's knowing how to learn. Learning itself is a skill, and knowing how to do it well is an incredibly valuable advantage.

Merely acquiring information is not learning....

Learning has 2 phases

Learning is a two-step process:

  • Read/listen: feeding ourselves new information.
  • Process and recall what you’ve just ‘learned’: connecting new materials to what we already knew.
Remembering the right things

You should not waste your time by committing unimportant details to memory. 

Your focus should be on understanding the bigger picture, on how things relate to each other.

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Laptops vs pen and paper

In an experiment, students were given Ted Talks to watch and were told to take notes, half with laptops, the other with pen and paper.

  • The students using a keyboard were more likely to ...
Recording lectures

Recording lectures to replay later has shown to have no added benefits compared to paying attention the first time without the possibility of watching it again.

  • The advantage of watching it again is that you don't have to worry about taking notes and can focus your full attention on it.
  • The benefit of taking notes is that it forces you to process the information and think about it before you can summarize it.
Jordan Peterson Writing Template
Jordan Peterson Writing Template
Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor at The University of Toronto, created a template for his students that takes them step by step through the detailed process of writing an essay.  
Jordan Peterson
Jordan Peterson
"Thinking makes you act effectively in the world.  Thinking makes you win the battles you undertake...If you can think and speak and write you are absolutely deadly!  NOTHING can get in your way.  That's why you learn to write...It's the most powerful weapon you can possibly provide someone with."
The Levels of Resolution

An essay exists at multiple levels:

  • The choice of words
  • The formation of sentences
  • The arrangement of sentences in a paragraph
  • The arrangement of paragraphs in a logical progression, beginning to end
  • The essay as a whole

A good essay works at every one of those levels simultaneously.

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The Art of Note-Taking
The Art of Note-Taking

Even in an age where laptops rule, notetaking is still the tool of choice for highly successful students, entrepreneurs, and leaders.

Tim Ferris attributes his notetaking style as one o...

The Cornell Method

This simple and highly systematic note-taking method helps you to understand key ideas and relationships easily. Best used for:

  • Gathering information from a seminar or presentation.
  • Recording college lecture notes.
  • Studying literature or a textbook.
Cornell Method: How to take notes
  1. Write down the lecture name/seminar/reading topic at the top of the page.
  2. Write down notes in the largest section of the page (right-hand column). Transcribe only the facts using bulleted lists and abbreviations. Take notes of questions that arise.
    3. Create question cues in the left-hand column that you will use later as a study tool.
  3. At the bottom section of the page, summarize the main ideas of your notes. Ask yourself how you would explain this information to someone else. Keep it concise.

Read over your notes in the left-hand column and summary at the bottom as often as possible. Quiz yourself with the questions you've included in the left column. Repeat often to increase your recall and deepen your comprehension.

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