Notetaking from Lectures and
1. Before the presentation begins, record the date, the place, and the
presenter. Number pages as you work.
2. Use dark ink and write on one side of the page for easier reading and
reviewing later. Pencil will fade and felt tip ink will smear.
3. Use a double-entry notetaking system that leaves space for your comments
4. Write only on one side of the page.
5. Develop a shorthand system, for example, content-specific abbreviations.
In a physics or chemistry class, use the periodic elements (write Fe instead
of iron). In a literature class, write onom instead of onomatopoeia. Write
ex to mean example, an = sign to mean equals,@ for at. Use figures instead
of numbers. But be sure to pick abbreviations and symbols you'll remember.
6. Show important items with special markings: add * or draw a circle
or box around information you know is critical. If you are uncertain about
something, write a question mark in a circle.
Suggestions for Listening
1. Sit as close as possible to the speaker. You can improve your listening
skills by sitting close, avoiding distractions, and focusing attention
on the speaker.
2. Resist the temptation to read or write on other matters than the
lecture content during the lecture. Doodle if you must, but do not write
letters or do homework for other classes.
3. If you are able to write down everything, do so. If not, be selective.
a. Definitely copy everything that is written
on the board or presented on a screen or other display format.
b. Write any information that is repeated or
accompanied by emphasis clues such as "most important"or "another cause."
c. Write all numbered or listed items.
d. Write all terms and their definitions.
e. If you cannot keep up with the speaker,
jot down key nouns and verbs so that you can return to them later and
questions. Some speakers
allow the audience to interrupt with relevant questions and with requests
to repeat a key
f. If other people make points with which the
speaker indicates agreement, write those points down and note that they
came from the audience.
4. Tape record the lecture only if you have advance permission from
the speaker and are unable to keep up with written notes. Most listeners
benefit from written notes, even when they are recording the presentation.
Structure of a Traditional Lecture You can improve your listening
skills if you can anticipate the order of information. These items are
typical of formal lectures and classroom presentations.
1. Opening. Professional speakers sometimes speak informally at first
to give the audience a chance to prepare for the main points. Teachers
sometimes review previous material or call roll or ask for questions.
2. Main point or thesis. Experienced speakers let the audience know
early what their key point or purpose is. In a classroom, teachers may
even give a brief overview of the information to be covered during the
class. Listen for the main point or points.
3. Body. Here is the information that explains, illustrates, supports,
and clarifies the main points. Listen for definitions of terms and concepts
as well as lists, examples, and reasons.
4. Summary. Many speakers summarize their key points at the end of a
presentation. Pay careful attention the last five minutes of a class.
Some professors speak quickly here when they realize they are almost
out of time. If you have questions that have not been answered, write
them down to ask later.
5. Question-and-answer or discussion period. Some speakers set aside
time for questions and general discussion. If you have written down
questions or comments during the lecture, you can participate now.
Taking Notes on Reading Assignments Many of the suggestions
for taking notes on lectures apply equally to reading notes. However,
some additional aids take advantage of the visual clues and typical
structure of textbooks, informational essays, and persuasive essays.
1. Scan the material quickly to get a sense of general content and the
organization. Pay attention to typical points of emphasis and information:
a. Titles and subtitles
b. Headings and other elements in larger
or darker (bold face) or slanted (italicized) type
c. Items in lists with numbers or bullets
d. Items and captions in charts or illustrations
e. Items in contents and glossaries
2. Read carefully, writing down the main and secondary points, preferably
in an outline format. A double-entry system using one side of the page
and double spacing to allow for later additions and corrections is helpful.
3. Recognize typical essay structure and write down these key elements
from the reading material:
a. Introduction with thesis that identifies
the main overall point and purpose
b. Beginnings and endings of chapters,
which often contain summaries of the key points
c. Beginnings and endings of paragraphs,
which usually contain a clear topic sentence that identifies the main
point of the paragraph.
4. Review your notes when you are finished to see whether you feel they
are complete. Use this review to highlight significant points and to
jot down questions you need to ask the teacher or another student. Many
students rewrite their notes into another notebook at the end of the
Using Your Notes Effectively
1. Soon after the presentation or reading, review your notes and fill
in as many gaps as possible from memory. Review previous lecture and
reading notes regularly.
2. If you need additional information or help, call or visit the professor
during scheduled office hours.
3. Form a study group with one or more students. Compare notes. You
can fill gaps in each other's notes and may be able to answer each other's
questions. Statistics show that most successful students work
in study groups.
4. As you review your notes, write down all your questions, concerns,
and comments. If you have used a double-entry notetaking system, you
have a place available for writing these items.
5. Outline your notes as your review them so that you can recognize
or create a structure.
6. Paraphrase key elementswrite them in your own words to help you understand
and remember them.
7. If you are transcribing a recorded lecture, take time to review the
8. As you review and outline, look for similarities, differences, causes,
effects, and other relationships that might be presented as discussion
questions on tests or as topics for papers.
Double-entry Notes and Journals Divide paper vertically,
creating a 2-to-3-inch column on either the right or the left. Use the
larger column for main entries and the smaller column for summaries,
comments, reflections, and revisions. Some versions divide the page
horizontally instead. Small section for summaries, comments, reflections,
Large section for class notes or main journal entries.
Second section for your ideas/conclusions/questions..
|Teacher emphasized these points--used "The Red Wheelbarrow" as
||I could write poems like this! It's just a list. And chickens?
|Imagism 1. Concrete images 2. Strong active verbs 3. Precise nouns
4. Sound effects emphasized 5. Pound, H.D., Hulme, Amy Lowell, Moore
||The pictures evolve as the poem progresses. First we see the wheelbarrow,
then we see the shiny surface, then we see chickens.
August 4, 2003