Taking Notes Matters

While watching your course videos and reading your textbooks it is important to take organized notes. Being able to take good notes is an important skill to develop. Honing these skills will will help you achieve academic success.


While there is no right way to take notes, try and resist the urge to copy loads of information or highlight everything. Below are some additional tips.

  • Take notes from memory. After reading a few paragraphs, think about what you read and take notes from memory.
  • Mark up your text. If you have your own print version, underline, circle, highlight key words or phrases. Use the margins to add comments and questions.
  • Create a graphic organizer. This method will allow you to organize the information visually. Some examples are: Venn diagrams, tables, flow charts, timelines, concept map, etc.
  • Other Tips. Avoid over-highlighting and copying directly from the book. Write notes in your own words. Lastly, wait until the end of a page to write down your notes. Doing so will allow you to focus on the main ideas and concepts.

Instructional Media

Taking good notes while watching or listening to instructional media (i.e. micro-lecture video, podcast, etc.) can help you focus and improve your ability to understand the material. Your notes are also a great resource when you want to prepare for an exam. The tips below will help you take more effective notes while watching or listening to instructional media.

  • Take clear and concise notes. They should be easy to read and make sense to you.
  • When covering conceptual information, jot down the main points. Resist the urge to write down everything the professor says.
  • Record any questions or confusing points that come up for you. You can later review circle back or reach out to your instructor to get clarification.
  • Make note of key dates, concepts, terms, etc.
  • To make your notes concise and brief, use symbols and abbreviations. Use bullets and short phrases instead of sentences.
  • Once you’ve chosen a format for your notes, stay consistent.
  • Review your notes a few days after watching the video. You’ll want to check for clarity, add content you might have overlooked, fill in definitions and organize your notes.

Digital or Handwritten Notes?

Think about how you will take notes. Do digital or hand-written notes work best for you? If you choose to take digital notes, consider using a tool like One Note or Word to organize your notes. There are also lots of useful apps. Some of the best ones are featured on College Info Geek. Lastly, if you have a tablet with a stylus, you may choose to handwrite your notes directly on your digital notebook.

Note Taking Methods

You’ll want to decide what system to use for taking notes. Watch these videos below to learn more about the different systems and apps for note taking. For additional study tips, check out the resources on College Info Geek.

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Page Content Source: Taking Notes While Readings and Effective Note Taking in Class by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s The Learning Center. Licensed under CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License.
Video Source: How to Take Notes in Class: The 5 Best Methods- College Info Geek. (2014, October). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/AffuwyJZTQQ
Video Source: Should You Take Notes on Paper or on a Computer?- College Info Geek. (2014, October). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/gsb-U8bZpig
Video Source: The 10 Best Note-Taking Apps in 2019- College Info Geek. (2019, January). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/ay2GvqVH4SM