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Effective note-taking: How to master the skill fast

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

Note Taking is an essential part of the lives of not just students but of anyone working in professional fields. Taking notes while a lecture is being given or just jotting down information while reading has been proven to be highly beneficial to the absorption of knowledge. It helps you pay attention in class and forces your brain to focus on the material. Read on to learn more about how each method can help you take better notes.


Summarizing can be used during both lectures and reading. The key to summarizing is identifying and noting the important ideas or information. Summarizing also ensures a more organized way of taking notes compared to quickly scribbling down all the information as you hear it. As this method requires you to process the information while you are writing down the notes, you will gain a better understanding of the lecture or the reading. A few tips that will help with the process of summarizing are to use bullet points and to use keywords, and phrases instead of whole sentences.


Mind-mapping is also similar to summarizing in that it uses keywords and phrases linked to one another to form ideas. Visually, a mind-map resembles a spider web which causes some to refer to it as a "web of ideas." Bringing this visual aspect to note-taking helps some students but may be harder for some. There is a certain freedom to mind-mapping since the student is free to add drawings to help understand ideas or to link ideas from different topics.

Symbols and Abbreviations

Sometimes it is not enough to just write down the important ideas, and sometimes it may be necessary to write down all the information. This is usually the case in lectures. In this case, symbols and abbreviations allow for the information to be transferred onto paper or into an online document without making the writing illegible, which can happen when the student, wanting to capture all the information, writes too quickly that the writing cannot be understood. Symbols such as "@" can be used to replace "at." Abbreviations of longer words such as "automobile (autombl)" can be used to help ease the task of taking notes while making them readable.

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