Essential Note-Taking Methods

Most students don’t have trouble revising what they learned in class simply because their note-taking methods were less than satisfactory. Making notes is an essential skill that one must possess to summarize what they learned in an organized and systematic fashion. Additionally, it helps to unravel critical concepts that one knew and make it easier for them to revise them later.

Professionals can also benefit from an effective note-taking method, especially in meetings or interviews. As we will learn, there’s more to it than just writing down whatever you hear.

Cornell method

This method is all about format and structure. The page is divided into 3 or 4 sections. The actual note-taking area is the largest part covering 70% of the page vertically, while another keywords or cues section runs along with it, covering the rest of the 30%. Additionally, one can leave a few lines at the bottom for a summary.

Outline method

The outline method relies heavily on headings and sub-headings for the organization of the material being written down. Each header or sub-heading outlines a core concept, and additional points underneath help explain the matter’s crux. The headings, sub-headings, and facts can be indented and bulleted or numbered to highlight what they stand for, further increasing their readability and organization.

Mapping method

The mapping method looks like a flowchart and is useful in representing information visually. Here, shapes are used to describe main ideas and points linked together to form a sort of map of the thing being discussed.

Charting method

Like the mapping method, the charting method employs a similar visual strategy for taking notes. Here, a table is used rather than a flowchart. Each heading and sub-heading is organized in a row or column. This is particularly useful when comparing two or more themes or containing numerical data, just like in a spreadsheet.

Each of these methods is not useful for every situation. It is recommended to apply a few of these methods together for an even more effective note-taking system. Some of them also require preparation before the actual note-taking process, and you may run out of space. For instance, the Cornell and outline methods may be useful when taking notes during long lectures or the mapping or charting methods when brainstorming with your peers.

Supplementary tips

Besides the methods mentioned above, one can also use secondary techniques to beautify their notes. Some tips include:

  • Color coding to highlight important texts.
  • Forming a legend to signify what a particular color means.
  • Using abbreviations and acronyms for commonly used terms.
  • Using symbols for commonly used words.
  • Using block letters when writing.
  • Using phrases instead of full sentences.

All of these note-taking methods, when used effectively, can make your studies more comfortable and save you some time while revising. Aesthetic, concise, and well-organized information is easier to understand and an essential tool for any student.

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