All About Note-Taking Methods

Note-taking methods are crucial for learning and retaining information. Whether you’re a student or a professional, taking notes is an important skill. Different note-taking methods have features that work well depending on the situation. If you understand multiple methods, you can choose the one that will work best.

For example, an outlining note-taking method would work well as a generic note-taking method. However, if you want to visualize your notes it might be better when it is a mapping method or a charting method.

All about note-taking methods

Here are five different note-taking methods you can try, as well as some general note-taking tips.

Outlining Note-Taking Method

outline method

This is one of the most simple note-taking methods that you can use. The aim is to create an “outline” of what you’ve read or learned. The outline usually consists of various main topics and sub-topics. You can create a hierarchy of information. It’s a good idea to separate your main topics, subtopics, and details by using different numbering or lettering systems. What’s great about this method is that you can take notes as you go. There is not as much pre-planning as in other methods.

Charting Note-Taking Method

charting method

The charting note-taking method aims to create a chart out of your notes. Try to think of your learning material as something that can be divided into boxes. This type of note-taking method is most suited when learning information that has a similar structure.

For example, historical events could work well in a chart note-taking method. You could have the historical event on top of each chart column. Then you could put categories like significance, date, who is involved, etc.. in each row.

Cornell Note-Taking Method

cornell method

A popular note-taking method is the Cornell method. This was developed at Cornell University in the 1950’s. The note-taking method divides a piece of paper into three main sections. The left side is for writing cues, questions, or main ideas. The right side allows you to make notes relating to the left side. At the bottom of the page you can add a summary which you fill at the end of your note-taking session. This is a wonderful way to take notes because you avoid writing in long sentences and it can also be easy to look at.

SQ3R Note-Taking Method

sq3r method

SQ3R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review and it’s a note-taking method suited for taking notes of reading material. This method will help you remember key information and prevent you from cramming before tests. What’s unique about this method is that you have to do pre-reading work, that will help the quality of your overall notes.

In order to format these notes, it’s probably best to have one column for questions and another column for the answers to the questions. The style can be similar to the Cornell note-taking method.

We’ll go step by step about how to do this note-taking method!

  1. Survey: Scan the reading material without reading in-depth. This is to get a general feel for what you’ll be reading about.
  2. Question: Next, write down a list of questions you hope to answer from the reading material. A great place to find questions is in the headings of each section in the text.
  3. Read: Read the entire section from start to finish while keeping in mind the questions.
  4. Recite: Write down the answers to your questions from step 2 after you’ve read the text. Go back to the reading to see what you missed if you can’t remember.
  5. Review: Write a summary of the entire section that you’ve read. Review the questions you wrote and try to answer them without looking at the answers.

Mapping Note-Taking Method

mapping method

The mapping note-taking method is a form of visual note-taking. This is a method where you connect one idea from the next by drawing branches out of the main topic. It’s an easy way to see how all of the information connects with each other. This note-taking method is well suited in situations where you’re trying to write notes on your own thoughts or ideas. It might not be as beneficial for notes involving reading a textbook or listening to lectures.

General Tips

In general, note-taking is all about writing down information that you want to remember. It’s also meant to make information concise so you can review a shortened form of what was actually written or taught.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you take notes:

  • Write in brief phrases: Try not to write full sentences since it will defeat the purpose of taking notes.
  • Make sure that it’s still readable: Your writing and the presentation of the notes should be readable. We sometimes rush to take notes and can’t read or understand them later.
  • Separate information into categories: Try to categorize as you take notes so that the information is laid out in an optimal way.
  • Re-read your notes after the note-taking session: Immediately re-read notes after taking them. This will allow you to make changes or add anything you might have missed.
  • Draw diagrams to visualize the information when needed: Visualization can be important in note-taking. You’ll have a representation of the information that you can grasp immediately.
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