Being able to take good notes is an important skill. Whilst good notes can be an aid to understanding, poor notes can seriously hinder the writing process and may lead to unintentional plagiarism.
You don't need to write down every word that you read or hear.
- Identifying a good set of notes (activity)
- Note taking skills
Advice and activities from the University of Exeter.
Methods of note taking
1. Line notes
The most common form of note taking, this involves capturing the key points in a linear way, using headings and subheadings to structure the information.
A more visual way of taking notes, mind-maps allow you to make links between ideas.
In lectures or for a quick brainstorm, pen and paper is the best way to capture information speedily. If you want to create more permanent notes, there is software available that can help. MindGenius is available on all cluster PCs.
- Five best mind-mapping applications
An article outlining the features of five popular mind-mapping tools.
3. The Cornell method
This method allows you to combine linear note taking with critical evaluation of the information.
- Cornell note taking in lectures
An article outlining the process of note taking using the Cornell method.
4. Comparing methods
There is no right or wrong way to take notes; you should use the method which works best for you.
- Comparing note taking styles (PDF)
Compare three sets of notes on a similar topic.
Note taking while reading
- Annotating texts (video)
A short demonstration video
- Avoiding plagiarism by taking good notes (activity)
- Note taking template (PDF)
Use this template to ensure that you capture the key information needed for writing your references.