Take Note: How to take good quality notes

Depending on the person, your notes must either be entertaining and creative or organised and neat. I like to find a middle ground so that I feel like I want to read the notes but they aren’t so chaotic that I get frustrated. Regardless of which type of notes you write, these are the bare essentials to any tertiary student’s note technique. 

  • Hand Written: studies show that we remember things more if we write them rather than type them. However we often find typing more convenient and faster than handwriting. While some of these apply to typing notes as well, they all apply to hand written.
  • Titles: title of the lecture, subtitles, title of the subject, name of lecture, your name, the list goes on. Titles are great to make it easy for you to navigate your notebook and share your notes with others.
  • Coloured Pens: you can have your standard black, red and blue or you can mix it up with some other colours of the rainbow. Allocate one colour for one thing, i.e. black for titles, red for mnemonics, blue for diagrams, etc. This makes for engaging notes that are still organised and neat.
  • Fonts: just because you’re writing doesn’t mean you can’t do different fonts. Capitalise some significant words, italicise where necessary and underline to attract your eyes to specific notes for exams or assessments.
  • Acronyms: if you’re handwriting notes you may be struggling to keep up, which makes it essential to use acronyms or short messy versions of normal words. Just make sure you know what you’ve written for later review.
  • Dot Points: numbering facts or parts of a concept will make reviewing it later a bit easier. It’s also easier for others to test you using your notes if there are dot points or numbers to guide them.
  • Diagrams: drawing diagrams and sketches is the best way to cement a concept in your memory. Even drawing speech bubbles, or I sometimes draw actual bubbles with words inside them. This sort of creativity helps your memory hold onto things in the long term and reflect on them in the future.

Happy note taking!