Note taking

Reading IconMethods in Note Taking

Firstly there is no right and wrong way to take notes. They are for your purpose, so the most important thing is that you can follow them. Here are some different methods of taking notes. See which ones suit you.

Methods in Note Taking

1 - Annotations

If you can photocopy the notes, highlight with a high lighter pen key phrases.

Then when you re-read just the key phrases it should make perfect sense and be easy to follow.

Essay Writing

I am going to talk about essay writing, which all of you will probably have to do when you enter higher education. There are five stages to consider and we hope you experience them during the weekend. There will also be reports and case studies to do in HE.

Firstly – is understanding the task – following instructions and working out the scope of what you have to do ….taking in the big picture, and asking questions if its not clear. If you do not understand the task you can not write about it.

2nd The next stage is planning and preparing your material to put into the essay. Looking round, finding materials , identifying key points and starting to shape the order of things, it is very important having that picture of what it might look like.

3rd, Then you have to write a draft, the first draft , using the materials you have down the main points think how you might introduce it and what your conclusions might be.

4th The next stage is to review the materials and draft ..does it make sense and have you enough evidence to support those conclusions, what do you need more?

Stage 5 is to write the final draft, revising the first draft ensuring it is clear and straightforward and checking the conclusions follow the argument throughout.

Essay Writing

essay writing five stages

Firstly understanding the task scope asking questions

2nd stage planning preparing finding materials identifying key points shape the order of things

3rd write a draft main points introduce conclusions

4threview the materials and draft does it make sense evidence to support those conclusions do you need more?

Stage 5 write the final draft clear straightforward checking the conclusions follow the argument

Saving! Original document has 202 words in it, the Highlighed Word = 75.......... wow!

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2 - Headings and bullet points

This is a very common way of making notes. It is especially useful if you are making noted on a computer as you can reorganise information under new headings. The heading is the key point or a question. The bullets or list of points under it all refer to that one heading.

Using a similar starting point to 1- find key headings

Key Headings Bullet points
Title - Essay Writing  
Stage 1
  1. Understanding the task
  2. Scope
  3. Ask any questions
Stage 2
  1. Plan
  2. Prepare
  3. find material
  4. Identify key points
  5. Shape the order of the content
Stage 3
  1. Write draft
  2. Main points
  3. Write introduction
  4. Write conclusion
Stage 4
  1. Review the draft
  2. Does it make sense
  3. Do you have the evidence to support your conclusion
  4. Do you need more material
Stage 5
  1. Write the final draft
  2. Is it clear
  3. Straightforward
  4. Conclusion follows your arguments
Saving! Original document 202 words in it, Bullet points = 70.......Beats Method 1!

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3 - Spider Diagram

Theses are notes that are organised around a central concept and work their way out from that idea. Each line from the centre leads you into more depth on a particular theme. Use colour and shape to make the notes distinctive. Look for a particular image formed by the final shape of the notes – or aim to develop a particular image. This will make the notes more memorable. This helps visual learners who like diagrams and images to help them remember.

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4 - Summary

It is useful to summarise your notes on any one topic or questions down to a few key points, quotes and examples. This familiarises you with the material. It also makes it easier to carry the information around to refer to on work placement or to revise for exams. Summary notes are usually cut-down versions using at times any of the methods above.

The below is a summary of the complex Battle of Hastings - 1066

Battle of Hastings 1066 between

Duke of Normandy



9:00 in morning on
14 th October 1066

Troops had defeated the King of France in 1054 and 1057

Commanded the army of Edward the Confessor

Bayeaux Tapestry. In the French town of Bayeaux tells the story.

Well trained

Troops were mixed professional and poor people




Fought on Senlac Hill

Fears of Williams death

Broke down their excellent shield wall to chase after the retreating Normans

William was not dead they regrouped and slaughtered the advancing English

This ruined the fight Harold could not be protected.

He died with thousands of others


Crowned King of England on Christmas day


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5 - Double notes

These are notes where you use either two colour or two columns or two sheets of paper in order to make two connected sets of notes. The first set is a summary of what you are reading or hearing. The second set is your commentary upon the first set. This is useful for separating out other people’s ideas and words from your own.

Fears of Williams death How did these fears get communicated was it done on purpose?
William was not dead they regrouped and slaughtered the advancing English

Was this a trick on Williams part or was Harold's reaction to break the shield wall an error which cost the fight?

Check out whether Harold was winning up to this point

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Reading IconConclusion

There is no right or wrong way to take notes. Pick a number of different methods to suit your style.

Remember it is very important to keep good records of where you gained each piece of information so that you can find it again quickly and easily. There is a set way to reference your work using the Harvard Referencing System. Remember if you do not state where you obtained your ideas, quotes, material then you may be accused of Plagiarism and cheating.

Note taking Exercise