Current Temp:
63 °F
Weather Station
Print This Page


Guidelines for Taking Lecture Notes Guidelines for Taking Textbook Notes


Methods of Notetaking


Notetaking is one of the best ways to listen and learn. It helps students to focus and provides them with a written record of the information presented in class lectures and discussions.

Guidelines for Taking Lecture Notes

1. Read the appropriate chapter in your textbook prior to attending the lecture on that subject.
2. Have a notebook or a section of a notebook for each class.
3. If you wish, write on only one side of the paper.
4. Write the topic of the lecture and the date at the top of the paper at the beginning of each lecture.
5. Be prepared to start notetaking from the beginning of the lecture and continue right up to the end of the lecture.
6. Do not try to take notes verbatim. Select the important points and state them in your own words.
7. Skip spaces between ideas to make the notes easier to study from and more clear.
8. Skip words that do not affect the meaning of what is said.
9. Copy everything written on the blackboard.
10. Write down word for word definitions, tables, formulas, quotations, references to books, and statements you do not understand and must think about later. Your notes should be so clear that you would be able to understand them at a later date.
11. Take notes on class discussion, not just on the formal lecture, since many professors use class discussion to draw out important points.
12. Listen for main ideas and general themes.

Watch for cues that the instructor thinks a point is particularly important.

  • A statement is repeated
  • Information is written on the blackboard
  • Examples are given
  • The professor's voice has a change in intonation
  • Points are enumerated in a "one, two, three" fashion
14. Write down examples.
15. Abbreviate recurring terms in order to save time. Put a key for abbreviated words in the top margin of your notes. For example, in a lecture about the Civil War, AL could stand for Abraham Lincoln. When the lecture is over, you may want to go back and fill in the full name.

Abbreviate common words. For example:

and   + with   w/ about   abt
under   U number   # more than   >
less than   < same as   = because  
therefore   leads to   for example   e.g.
that is   i.e. comes from    
17. If you are unable to spell a word during a lecture, write it down the way it sounds and correct the spelling at a later time.
18. If you choose to tape your classes ask the instructor for permission and take notes during the class as well. Use the tapes only as a backup to fill in missed information.
19. At the end of the lecture, ask questions about points you do not understand.
20. If you become lost during a lecture, mark the spot with a star, leave a generous amount of space in your notes, and catch up with the professor. After class you can fill in the missed information by checking with your professor or another classmate.
21. Review your notes as soon after the lecture as possible. If there is information that you missed or do not understand fill it in by looking it up, asking your professor at the next class, or checking with a classmate. Do not wait until test time to do this.
22. Do not rewrite your notes for the sake of rewriting. It takes too much time. Rewrite them only if they are illegible or unless you learn better by rewriting.

Keep your course notes. They may help you later in an advanced course in the same subject area.


Guidelines for Taking Textbook Notes

  1. Take notes while reading your textbooks to improve your retention of the material.
  2. Take notes to aid in your understanding of the textbook material.
  3. Take note to reduce the time needed to review the material.
  4. Take notes to keep alert.


Cornell System of Notetaking

 Other Notetaking Methods

Begin by writing the date and the topic of the lecture at the top of the paper. Draw a vertical line about 2" from the left margin of the paper. This is called the recall column. During the lecture record your notes in the space to the right of the vertical line. After class, write down key words or questions in the recall column that will serve as cues for the notes you have taken during the lecture.

Write Down Key Words or Questions

After class jot down key words or questions that will serve as cues for the lecture notes you have taken in the right-hand column.

Take Lecture Notes in This Column

Record lecture notes in simple paragraph form. Skip lines to separate ideas. Use abbreviations.

Cover up the right-hand column and quiz yourself. Write a summary of your notes at the botton of each paqe.


Other Notetaking Methods:

  • Write notes in outline form by using a standard Roman numeral format.
  • Write notes in paragraph form.
  • Create pictures or visual maps in your notes to add another dimension to the information.