Lecture notes: useful tips for students

The ability to write notes quickly and properly is very important because it can be considered one of the most important skills for success in learning and even in work. But, unfortunately, in schools and universities we are almost not taught the art of outlining. Many students can’ t fully prepare for classes with an incomplete outline. All this leads to the fact that students cannot understand the educational material and they often have to get writing help. Today we will tell you about the important rules of taking notes, as well as get acquainted with several interesting ways of taking notes, which are used by many successful people.

What are notes for?

Before we talk about how to take notes correctly, let us remind you that the outline is a concise summary of any topic, designed in written form. With the help of the notes, you can quickly refresh and consolidate in memory important information.

The first notes we start to make at school. Then we take notes on lectures at the university. And if we do it correctly, then even a small notebook can be a worthy substitute for a thick textbook and will help to prepare for the test or exam.

In adult life, when we begin to work, we are also often faced with the need to take notes. We may need to take notes on a research paper, a book, a seminar, a speaker’s text at a meeting, or anything else.

All this means that the usefulness of the skill of outlining cannot be underestimated. It contributes to faster and easier fixation of information, as well as its further recovery and fixation in memory. Hence a significant saving of time and effort, intellectual resources, and mental energy.

Knowing how to take notes properly, you can seriously increase your chances of success in learning and achieving goals in professional, creative, and even private life. To prove it, here are a few points about the benefits of taking notes.


  • can substitute textbooks and books;
  • often save a trip to the library;
  • serve as an excellent cheat sheet for preparing for exams (and on exams);
  • contain only important information about a topic (no unnecessary);
  • reproduce valuable thoughts of a teacher or lecturer;
  • save the most part of space (both on paper and in a backpack or bag);
  • provide a basic level of knowledge about a particular topic;
  • they are an indispensable assistant in practical classes and in the work; and
  • develop writing speed and memory;
  • characterize a person as a responsible student or executor.

Moreover, you can refer to them even after several years, when you need to get back to some information. Some people even keep notes not as a source of valuable information, but as a memory.

By the way, if you think that taking notes in the traditional way (with pen and paper) has become irrelevant, and it is much more convenient to use a computer, then take note of the fact that when you take notes manually, you engage the mechanical memory, thus increasing the chance of remembering information more clearly.

The Basic Rules of Taking Notes

To begin with, let’s talk about the simplest. First, any outline should be focused only on the main ideas, while reflecting the essence of the topic. Secondly, if you decide to write an outline manually, you must have a notebook and a set of colored pens (it will be helpful to have colored markers).

Third, the outline always begins with the date and title (if there is some earlier material in the notebook, you must separate several lines from it, so that the data arrays do not merge). Fourth, it is desirable to highlight the most important and essential material in color (for example, writing with a different-colored pen or marker).

Now let’s point out a few other rules for taking notes:

  • A lecturer or instructor always speaks a lot, but not always concretely on the topic. For this reason, you must learn to identify the most important points in a person’s speech, which you should put in your notes.
  • Don’t write everything in one line. Use the quotation technique of writing. This means that each new idea should be written on a new line. At the same time, it is advisable to make a gap of one line between all the lines. This greatly simplifies perception and allows you to supplement your notes.
  • Whatever the lecturer or teacher says on the blackboard should also be written down in your notebook, because if he does it, it means that it is especially important. You can write it down either graphically or in abstract form.
  • Do not neglect abbreviations and acronyms. Always write numbers in signs. This compresses the volume of material many times, but the meaning is not lost, and you can easily understand what it is about.
  • Include not only text, abbreviations, numbers, and punctuation, but also tables, charts, diagrams, formulas, graphs, and drawings. These graphic clues save time for fixing the information, and they are easy to remember. In addition, they stand out favorably among the text blocks.

If you realize that the information is being presented quickly and you don’t have time:

  • Use a graphic outline. In this type of outline, the material is not written down but depicted graphically – just with diagrams, formulas, arrow sequences, and other graphic elements.
  • Use a voice recorder. Before the lecture begins, simply set the recorder to record. You can take notes at the same time, leaving space for what you don’t have time to record. When you get home, play the recording, and fill in what you missed in the outline.
  • Use an outline plan. Watch the sequence in which the lecturer presents the information, and make a plan, indicating the main sections of the topic. Then you can record the most important things by consulting outside sources, including the Internet.
  • Increase your writing speed. The skill of writing takes practice, but the results are worth the effort. You can write faster not only by developing your hand motor skills, but also by using more abbreviations, acronyms, and pictures.

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