Formatting Your Notes
When taking notes in lecture, there
is no perfect format to follow. Ways of taking notes
are as varied as the people who take them. There are,
however, some general formatting rules to follow that
will greatly improve the quality and usefulness of
your notes, whatever style you choose.
Dont cram too much information into small
spaces. Paper is one of the cheapest things you
will purchase in college, so dont be afraid to
use lots of it. Your notes will be much easier to
read and work with if you leave sufficient space
Leave room in your notes for supplementary
information. When you study your notes after lecture
and compare the professors discussion of an
idea with whats in the textbook, you will often
find it useful to add diagrams or additional
commentary. Be sure to leave room for this
information while taking your notes in class.
Include questions about ideas you dont
understand. If something the professor says in class
doesnt make sense as you take notes, be sure to
include a question mark or partial sentence to remind
yourself that this idea needs clarification. That way
you will remember to look up this information in the
text-book, or ask the professor directly.
Dont try to be a perfect artist in class.
The diagrams and graphic images the professor uses in
lecture were probably made by a professional. Indeed,
many of these images can probably be found in your
textbook. Dont waste time attempting detailed
renditions of them during lecture. Rather, make
simple versions and then refine those drawings as you
study your notes.
Rule 5. Some students find it
useful to recopy their notes after class, or even type them
up. While this activity does take extra time, it is a good way
to catch mistakes, review the lecture material, and begin the
process of studying repeatedly. If you opt for this helpful
note-taking strategy, then be sure to build sufficient time into
your study schedule for it.
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