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Take Note! Effective Strategies for Note-Taking


Effective note taking involves making an observation, recording what you observed, and reviewing what you captured.  Below are tips on taking great notes that will help you learn the concepts in your course.

​ Label your notes to identify what they cover. Indicate a title, date, and where the notes are from (e.g. chapter number, section, page numbers).

 ​Pull keywords out​ and record them in your notes. They will evoke images and associations with other words and ideas.  Be sure to provide definitions with keywords that are new to you. Once you're done reading a chapter, review these keywords and their definitions.

 Use pictures, flow charts and diagrams to make relationships visual.  Label components with keywords and link together elements that have relationships.  Use symbols (asterisks, arrows, underlining, bolding, brackets, etc.) to highlight and give emphasis to important key points.

 Interpret what you are learning by describing the concept in your own words.  This will capture the idea in your own voice and help you better understand the topic.

Create an "I'm Lost" Signal that helps you quickly identify areas where you need more information or clarification.

 Take Notes in Outline Format in order to identify main topics, supporting subtopics and finer details.  Use formatting (bolding, underlining, etc.) to emphasize important areas and key concepts.

 ​Create mnemonic devices to help you retain larger quantities of information particularly in the form of lists, steps, parts, or phases. The Learning Center Exchange provides Nine Types of Mnemonics for Better Memory.

See more tips and resources from CMU at the Online Learning Resource Center​ or request an information packet to get started at CMU!

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