Your Notebook and "Good" Notes

An open notebook with writing on the pages. 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

  1. Keep a separate notebook or separate section of a notebook for each course. This will help you stay organized and avoid misplacing your notes.
  2. If the course requires different types of notes (e.g., lecture notes, notes on outside reading, lab notes, computation notes) arrange them on opposite pages for cross-referencing.
  3. Notes for each lecture should begin on a new page, with the date and page number.
  4. Make your notes brief: a key phrase for a sentence; a word to represent a phrase.
  5. Abbreviate whenever possible.
  6. Put notes into your own words.
  7. A formula, a definition, and specific facts demand exact wording.
  8. Number items or use indentations to distinguish between major and minor points.
  9. Highlight unfamiliar vocabulary and unclear areas. Take notes as completely as you can and check your text(s) for clarification.
  10. Develop questions to ask your friends or instructor to help clarify information or concepts.
  11. If you miss something completely, leave a blank space and locate the information later.
  12. Develop a coding system or scheme to mark your notes.
  13. Use technical abbreviations instead of writing out the whole word.
  14. Use technical symbols instead of writing out words.
  15. A good place to locate your coding scheme(s) is in the margin of the notebook.


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