Structure and organization are key to maintaining accurate notes. Following is a list of guidelines and tips for setting up a notebook and keeping your notes intelligible.
Setting Up Your Notebook
- Keep a separate notebook or separate section of a notebook for each course. This will help you stay organized and avoid misplacing your notes.
- If the course requires different types of notes (i.e., lecture notes, notes on outside reading, lab notes, computation notes) arrange them on opposite pages for cross-referencing.
- Notes for each lecture should begin on a new page, with the date and page number.
- Make your notes brief: a key phrase for a sentence; a word to represent a phrase.
- Abbreviate whenever possible.
- Put notes into your own words.
- A formula, a definition, and specific facts demand exact wording.
- Number items or use indentations to distinguish between major and minor points.
- Highlight unfamiliar vocabulary and unclear areas. Take notes as completely as you can and check your text(s) for clarification.
- Develop questions to ask your friends or instructor to help clarify information or concepts.
- If you miss something completely, leave a blank space and locate the information later.
- Develop a coding system or scheme to mark your notes.
- Use technical abbreviations instead of writing out the whole word.
- Use technical symbols instead of writing out words.
- A good place to locate your coding scheme(s) is in the margin of the notebook.