Taking notes is one of the vital skills for every student. Whether you are a school student, college or university, if you don’t know the ways to take notes then it will become too difficult for you to prepare yourself before a test or an exam. Conversely, if neat and to the point notes, it will become too easy and convenient for you to prepare and make yourself ready for any kind of tough test. In the article below I am going to share the tips on how to take better & neat notes.
How to Take Better & Neat Notes
On this page, I will walk you through the note-taking ways for both lecture notes and textbook notes. Based on my experience in university, I have tried out different techniques for note-taking and I have finally found the ways that work best for me. So I am going to share some of the tips below that have helped me take notes and that are both efficient and neat and I hope that they can help you as well.
1. Skim Through the Topics
The note-taking process starts before the lecture. The first thing you should do is quickly skim through the topics for the upcoming lecture and this is just to get an overview of what you are going to learn so that you are a bit more prepared. Once You have skimmed through the pages, just write down keywords on a piece of paper, this is going to be a checklist for the later to make sure you have included all of these central topics and concepts in your notes once they are finished.
2. Use Grid Paper For Your Notes
During the lecture, It’s better to use grid paper for your notes. Because the gird paper is big support when it comes to making your notes neat and organized and it also makes the spacing between the lines more narrow which is useful for those of you with small handwriting.
3. Use Loose Leaf Paper
You can also use loose-leaf paper over your notebooks just because you don’t have to deal with the spiral getting in the way and also because you can put your notes in a binder when they are finished.
4. Use Erasable Pens
When it comes to stationery, It’s suggested to use erasable pens. That way you don’t have to cross over any mistakes and you can also just change your notes as much as you like. The pens you can use can be pilot Firxion 0.5 millimeter pens for writing and the thick pilot Firixon pens for coloring and the erasable pens for some extra colors. You should keep in mind that these pens may be erased by friction heat and other things, but if you are a bit careful you shouldn’t have too much trouble with them.
5. Margin in Writing
If there isn’t already a margin on the paper, you can make one before you start writing just to get some extra space that you might use later.
6. Use Color Pen For Important Notes
Another thing you can do for a while is using a colored pen to write down the important notes. When you skim through your notes later while revising them you can easily see the most important terms and you will also feel like the process of changing pens and taking a bit of extra time to write down these terms helps you remembering them.
7. Using Abbreviations
Another tip to save time while taking notes is to use abbreviations as much as you can just make sure that you remember what the abbreviations mean so that you don’t get confused while looking through your notes later.
8. Putting Space for diagrams
Finally, the thing in your note-taking system that can be very useful during lectures is to make space for diagrams that the professor goes through but waiting to draw them until after the lecture. As you know that diagrams are one of the things that you learned most from and therefore a central part of your notes.
Also, by drawing diagrams when the lecture is over lets you make them more detailed so you can learn more from them while you get to revise the topic and while drawing the diagrams.
Most of the students return to their lecture notes either later the same day or the day after the lecture. They start by quickly reading through them so that they remember the topic well before they continue working on them.
The first thing they will do is drawing the diagrams they went through during the lecture. Drawing them at home means that they can spend more time making them detailed and understandable and they also know that they only spending time on diagrams that are directly relevant to the topics they have learned about.
If they find that there are other diagrams from the textbook that are relevant they will, of course, draw them as well but most of the time they just use the ones that their professors have used.
After doing these steps finally, return to the checklist you made in the beginning and see if you have covered all the central topics. If you have missed anything add it to your notes and also use the margin to add any additional important information more examples and detail that you feel is important to include.
After this read though your notes once again and it’s good to use a highlighter and highlight what you feel are the most important points in your notes.
9. Have a system for note-taking (Paragraphs, bullet points, examples, etc.)
A good tip for keeping your notes neat and organized is to have a certain system for organizing what’s right that you stick to. For example, you can start a new paragraph for each concept then you can use bullet points to add extra information related to that concept and also you can use arrows to include short examples related to the current topic.
You can also write any calculation examples in a box towards the middle of the page which lets you find them easily if you go through your notes at a later point looking for a particular calculation.
You can also use cloud boxes to include any additional information that doesn’t necessarily fit into one of the paragraphs. Keep in mind that you should not try to copy this particular note-taking system but instead find one that works best for you.
Besides, having a system helps you in keeping your notes organized and also spend less time figuring out the layout of your notes.
10. Write Brief Summary
The last step of note-taking is writing a summary at the bottom of the page where you focus on the main ideas and also the contents you have found to be the most difficult ones and then you can use the summary when you want to quickly revise your notes before a test or an exam.
Finally, a completely optional last step is to take a couple of minutes to make your notes look neater by changing the title, making subheadings a bit fancier or just anything that makes your notes more appealing to study later.
I hope this could help you in figuring out your note-taking process and remember that everyone has different techniques that work for them and if you have any tips for note-taking that you find useful then do feel free to share them with everyone in the comment section below.