Why do we need to take notes?
Note taking can help to focus your attention on what you are reading, watching or listening to and stop your mind from wandering. They can also help you make sense of what you are learning and when working on a piece of writing, such as an essay or a report, they are a good way of getting all your ideas and your evidence together.
What type of notes should I make?
The type of notes you make will often depend on the subject matter. For example if you are studying a maths or science subject then short, concise notes may be all that is needed – perhaps on index cards. However notes for a literature or psychology subject, for example, could require more detail and references to theories may be needed.
Written notes are not always needed and sometimes using highlighter pens on a hand out or text book can work well instead. Visual notes, such as diagrams and mind maps work well for some people or a mixture of written and visual notes could be used.
Top tips for note taking:
For tips on different note taking techniques use The Open University Skills for study section on Notetaking techniques.
Take the unit on note taking and writing skills on the OU OpenLearn website Reading and note taking – preparation for study.
If you have a tablet or smart phone, download Evernote, which is a free note taking app that will also install on your desktop meaning that you can make and access your notes anywhere.
Read the helpful guides on HowToStudy.
The University of New South Wales also has a step by step guide to note taking involving reading and listening. Useful for those with a variety of learning styles. See Notetaking skills: an introduction.
The University of Leicester provides study skills in Note-making.