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Access Center

Notetaking Hints and Tips

In Class

  • Attend all classes and sit in the front row.
  • Keep up with reading assignments.
  • Come prepared. Bring extra pens, paper, handouts, etc.
  • Write date & course name on each page.
  • Ask questions if you need clarification.
  • Write as legibly as possible.  Don’t write too small or too close to the edge of the page.
  • Don’t worry about making mistakes.  Cross them out and keep going.
  • Write down everything that is written on whiteboards and overheads. Draw pictures and graphs as best you can, but they don’t need to be an artistic masterpiece.
  • Always include vocabulary, formulas, names, etc that the instructor mentions or writes down.
  • Use symbols (stars, arrows, boxes, etc) to designate key points and concepts that the instructor places emphasis on.  This is especially important for things the instructor says will be on exams.
  • Leave “white space” in between concepts to visually distinguish one major point from another. This also leaves space to add in additional information later in the lecture.
  • Skip small connecting words such as: is, are, was, were, a, or an
  • Skip pronouns such as: they, these, that or them
  • Use symbols to abbreviate when possible. = equal, & and, 4 for, + plus, - minus, x times, w/ with, w/out without
  • Substitute numerals with symbols. 1 instead of one. 3rd instead of third.
  • If you are using NCR paper press down as hard as you can without compromising speed. 

After Class

  • Organize and review your notes and fill in any additional information that you remember.  Edit notes for clarification.
  • Underline and/or highlight key statements or important concepts. Use different colors.
  • Write key words or formulas along the margins so you can find them easily.
  • Use asterisks or other symbols to indicate importance.
  • If your notes are messy, it may be best to re-write them immediately before you start to forget the information. 
  • Spend an hour per credit hour (3 credit class = 3 hours) reviewing your lecture and lab notes.