Note-Taking Tips

Adopting an effective note-taking strategy will help you engage with the lecture content better than before. A good strategy can also help you overcome some common note-taking struggles.

example lecture notes

Here are some tips to help you improve your notes:

  • Personalize - make notes in your own words
  • Condense - paraphrase what you hear
  • Abbreviate - but don’t use shorthand
  • Relate - make note of relationships between content
  • Question - write questions you think of
  • Leave Blanks - miss something? Leave spaces for filling in later
  • Omit - content such as anecdotes and detailed illustrations can be left out
  • Copy - important names, dates, and formulas should be written as-is, carefully
  • React - write your own reactions [in brackets] so as not to confuse them with lecturer’s viewpoints

What’s in a Lecture?

Knowing how the lecturer builds her/his lecture, and what the instructor’s “aim” is, will help you structure your notes to better learn the material. Talking with your T.A. or professor about lecture content is encouraged.

Some examples of lecture content include:

  • introductory bodies of knowledge
  • criticism of comparative viewpoints
  • discussion of controversial issues
  • presentation of research
  • theoretical brainstorming
  • presentation of instructor’s background relating to class content

Lecture Structure

6 Common Lecture Structures

Did you know lectures have different structures? Read about them and see if you can recognize the structure of your next lecture.