The first step to taking effective notes is to attend all lectures, sit in the front of the classroom, and be an active listener.

The following suggestions will help you become a great note taker:

  • Record the date and class on the top of the first page of notes.
  • ALWAYS number your pages.
  • Use dark ink if writing your notes by hand.
  • Make notes complete and clear enough to understand when you come back to them.
  • If you use abbreviations or shorthand, make sure you include a “key” so your notes can be understood.
  • Highlight important items with highlighting, asterisks*, or draw circles around main topics. You can even highlight important ideas, terms, and concepts with different colors. Indentation and underlining can also be used to emphasize a point.
  • Leave plenty of white space for later additions – skip lines and leave spaces between main ideas.
  • Put the information in your own words – do not copy verbatim what the instructor is saying.

Information to include in your notes:

  • Anything written on the board, highlighted in the slides, or presented on an overhead.
  • Any information that is repeated or emphasized by the instructor, especially when the following phrases are used: “finally,” “remember,” “most important,” “does everyone understand?”
  • Numbered or listed items.
  • Important or new terms, definitions, and examples.
  • References to your text book (be sure to note the page #).
  • Any information presented in videos or other media clips.
  • Any information presented by a guest speaker
  • Examples that the instructor gives.
  • Ask questions about topics that need more clarification.

If you ever feel like you aren’t able to keep up, DON’T WORRY – just write down key words so that you can return to fill in any gaps.

Lastly, review your notes and fill in any gaps.

You are now ready to upload your notes to myPMC on Carleton Central.