Notetaking

Taking Notes for Someone Else

These are some practical suggestions for taking notes for someone else, as well as strategies to help you improve your own notetaking abilities.

General Info:

  • Be sure of your purpose and the speaker's purpose.
  • Sit up front so you can see and hear better.
  • Ask questions if permitted; if not, jot down questions in your notebook.
  • Soon after the presentation, review your notes, rewrite skimpy or incomplete parts, and fill in gaps you remember but didn't record.

Format:

  • Record the date, place, topic/title and presenter.
  • Number your pages.
  • Use dark ink and write on one side of the page.
  • Use a double entry notetaking system (see "Cornell Notetaking System" handout)
  • Write neatly. Make notes complete and clear enough to understand when you come back to them.
  • Use shorthand ('Fe' for iron, '=' for equals, '@' for at, etc.) and abbreviations. Feel free to develop your own set of abbreviations, but please put a key at the top of the page so your notes can be understood.
  • Highlight important items with asterisks or draw circles or boxes around critical info. Indentation, underscoring and starring are also effective for indicating relative importance of items. Show uncertainty with a circled question mark.
  • Leave plenty of white space for later additions. Skip lines. Leave space between main ideas.

Taking Lecture Notes

The Goal: Capture the lecturer's ideas as accurately and fully as possible in the order the ideas are delivered, to allow for analyzing, reflecting and making them your own.

The Reason: To make a record of the lecture to fill the gaps created by the massive forgetting that will take place during and after the lecture.

5 Essential Steps for Mastering Your Notes:

  1. Record the information
  2. Reduce the ideas to a key word or phrase in the left-hand margin
  3. Recite it without looking at it, and if you can't, you don't know it
  4. Review to get a complete picture of the ideas that were recited
  5. Reflect by speculating on the implications of the facts and concepts