Effective note-taking skills
Good note-taking practice, including using methods and an overall system that will work for you, will help you take control of your learning. Read on for support and resources for note-taking, personalised revision tools and overall methods to improve your notes.
You can also refer to Effective note-taking in the Imperial Success Guide.
Quick tips to improve your note-taking
Be an active learner
Don’t try and write down everything your lecturer says, or copy articles word for word. Instead write down key concepts, key terms and key relationships.
Not sure what’s ‘key’? In both your readings and lectures, look for emphasis and repetition. Articles often have an abstract that summarises the main points of the text, and your tutors generally provide intended learning outcomes for their lectures. Be on the lookout for clues like these.
Experiment with different note-taking methods
By using a note-taking method like Cornell, Mapping or Outlining, you can instantly transform your notes into better revision tools that will still make sense to you when you look at them days or weeks later.
You may already be making notes on your laptop or mobile device, but you could also experiment with note-taking apps such as OneNote (requires Microsoft Office 365). Library Services runs an app workshop called App Slam if you want more advice.
Keep track of sources
One of the reasons to take notes is to track sources carefully. Always record the complete bibliographic information if you plan to use, or refer to, a concept or a quote. Try writing quotes in a different colour or highlighting the names of information sources. Library Services supports students at all levels in developing plagiarism awareness.
Review your notes
Notes are part of an overall system for study and revision. Re-read and summarise your notes as part of the revision process.