Online Note-taker Training
Unit Three: Strategies for Providing Effective Notes
- Two aspects of taking effective class notes are:
- Having a good understanding of the information being taught in class and providing a thorough set of class notes the student can use to study and complete assignments.
- Effectively transcribing course information in a complete, legible, and organized manner. Copy all information from the board and overheads. “Transcribing” does not necessarily mean a word-for-word record of everything the instructor says.
- Attending class regularly and, if possible, sitting near the front of the classroom.
- If using carbonless paper to take class notes, the copies will be more legible if:
- You use a ball-point pen.
- The carbonless paper that is not stacked on top of other carbonless paper.
- If possible, use a similar notetaking format throughout the semester. Do not cram information onto each page; leave open spaces and 1-1/2 to 2 inch margins on all sides of the paper to keep notes from looking crowded and to give the student room to add his/her own comments later. Use only one side of each sheet of paper.
- Depending on the format of the class, we recommend you use one of the following three notetaking formats. Use a consistent format. Occasionally, a student using your notes may request that you take notes using a particular format.
Outline Format: Using this format will help you organize the information as you record it.
- Use short phrases or single words, if appropriate.
- Leave space to go back to an earlier topic, if necessary.
I. Use Roman Numerals to identify major subjects or themes and write those subject themes in CAPITAL LETTERS.
A. Indent and use letters to identify specific components of the subject.
1. Indent and use numbers or lower case letters to records details.
- Two-Column Format
- Using a ruler, divide each page into two side by side columns. The left column only needs to be a few inches wide.
- The right side column should be used to record topical information and all relevant details.
- The left side column is used to identify the main subject and key words.
- Text/Paragraph Format: This format is particularly useful when the information presented in class doesn't have a clearly organized pattern.
- Use complete sentences to express a complete thought.
- Use paragraphs to distinguish different points or topics. Leave space between each paragraph so you can add information if the instructor returns to that “theme” or point later.
- Outline Format: Using this format will help you organize the information as you record it.
- Identify important information using symbols, such an asterix (*), or a text box, stars, or other indicators consistently to mark important information, such as:
- Key formulas or concepts.
- Assignments and due dates.
- Class announcements (such as cancellations or room changes).
- If the professor refers to a textbook, video, or other resource, identify it so the student can refer to that material if necessary.
- Record all formulas, diagrams, dates, numbers, and any information written on the board.
- Try to include a description of classroom activities (labs, demos, etc.) when appropriate. This might include:
- Describing the sequence of a demonstration, (ex., lighting a Bunsen burner – check the connection, position the lighter before turning on the gas, etc.)
- Describe the visual setting for videos, films or other media shown during class. This is particularly important if you are taking notes for a student who is blind or has a visual impairment.
- Include comments by other people in your notes, if important, and be sure to identify that the information or question came from someone other than the professor.
- Use abbreviations consistently. If writing the same name or term many times and you are using abbreviations, write a “key” to identify what the abbreviations mean.
- Every page of notes must include:
- Course title and/or course number.
- Page numbers
- Before handing off the class notes, check to see that they are complete and clear, including:
- Diagrams are labeled and important information is clearly delineated.
- Legible (if using carbonless paper, make sure the copies are readable).
- Any false starts or material to be ignored is completely crossed out.
- Headings or number lists are added to provide additional structure.