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Writing Skills


What are some strategies to take good quality notes? Should I highlight, use sticky-notes, or underline? What are some suggestions? Or what do you do to remember key points while reading? #skills

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Justin’s Answer

Hi Ashly, This is a great question! This was tricky for me when I started school. I didn't know what my note taking style was and there is so many options. My short answer is you will need to experiment and you will most likely find that using a combination of different note taking styles helps best. I personally do a combination of typing, handwriting in notebooks, notecards and sticky notes. You just want to make sure that your notes are easy to read and keep track of later. Especially when reading or trying to get info from resources, my notes sometimes start with the author, chapter and pages. Then you can do simple bullet points about each chapter (including what happened or what is being discussed). If it is a text book that you need to read from, keep close attention to write down titles, headings or anything in bold. You may also find adding a quote or two from someone useful. Once you find the way that you like to take notes the best, you will find that it doesn't take much additional time while reading. Studies have proven that taking notes while reading helps with memorizing by a huge amount.

Depending on what types of notes I am taking, (lecture, book, independent research) I always write down the question, "What is the person/author trying to say?" or "what do I think the theme is here?". This helps me to step outside of the information and view it from a different viewpoint.

This professional recommends the following next steps:

  • Here is an article that gives some suggestions on how to take notes while reading: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/write/notes-reading.html

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Cari’s Answer

I would recommend highlighting, but be cautious to only focus on the words/ideas that are key. If you highlight entire passages, it loses the impact of going back to review. Use sticky notes on pages with concepts that you are struggling with a bit more, so you can easily focus on those first. If you are a tactile learner, you will learn better by writing than reading, so you may want to write key elements into a separate notebook. In terms of taking notes, make a note at the top of each page with 1-3 words that capture the topic that's on that page, the date, and the reference to the course materials (book, chapter), if applicable. As you flip back through looking for a specific note, you can more easily locate it without reading through multiple pages. When writing, it's difficult to capture every word, so capture only the key words that are needed for you to remember the message. For example, for the prior sentence, the note would be simply, "capture key words to remember". Good luck!