Note-Taking: Tips 1

What’s it for?

When you read for your course it is different to reading as a hobby or for pleasure. You need to look at the information in a different way.

When you sit down to read a text book you need to make the best use of the time you have committed. Making useful notes from the reading will benefit you later in your course.

Reading academic text can often be confusing and making notes helps you understand what you are reading and helps it stick in the memory better.

Later in your course you will need to use these notes to help write an assignment or to revise from without having to read through the text books again.


  • Main points on taking notes. – Don’t start by copying whole paragraphs or pages. Just like in a lesson, note down the key words or phrases and then make your own comments to help you break it down into language you understand,
  • Bullet points and lists – Again, like in lessons, use headings, lists or bullet points to reduce the lengthy writing into manageable sections.
  • A picture paints a thousand words – Use flow charts for dates, or perhaps use diagrams for connections between facts. Link common themes with arrows or pointers.
  • Diagrams – Some information may be better expressed or remembered in diagram form.  A process, for example, may best be shown in a circle or line diagram with arrows indicating flow or relationships.  Think about the information and decide how you will best remember it.
  • Direct reference – If you want to quote directly from what you have read, use quote “ marks. Copy exactly but only copy the relevant bit. Remember to attribute the quote in your final essay.
  • Shorthand – Rather than write whole words, try to get used to shorter versions of words;
    Word Shorter version
    Example eg
    Without w/o
    Plus +
    And &
    With w
    Dates  ’87


  • Use Colour – Write important points in a bright colour eg red, or use a highlighter pen to mark through sections you really don’t want to forget.
  • Referencing – Make sure you make a complete note of the article or book you are using. You need to ensure you attribute the source of your work, so make a note of  the title, the author, who the publisher is and when it was published.Websites are similar to reading a book, make notes in the same way but remember to quote the correct URL along with the authors name, date of publication and so on.




The following passage has been adapted from an article in the Independent newspaper on 3/10/97.

In april this year the National Trust decided to ban the hunting of stags on its land.  They accepted evidence from a 2 year study by Patrick Bateson of cambridge University – an animal behaviour expert – that pursuit by people on horseback and dogs was grossly stressful, exhausting and agonising for stags.

The move was seen as a landmark victory for those opposed to hunting, although the Trust were only banning the hunting of stags (not foxes) and could only deal with hunting on National Trust land.

At the same time, however, the Labour Party was moving towards its General Election victory and promisedin its manifesto to allow a free vote in Parliament on banning all hunting.  So the tide seemed to be running strongly in favour of the abolitionists.

However, six people representing those who favoured stag hunting mounted a legal challenge to the National Trust’s decision.  The pro-blood-sports lobby staged a huge rally in hyde park in central London against a Bill  proposing a ban on all hunting.  The New Labour Government, meanwhile, started to cast doubt on whether time would be made available for the Bill.

At the High Court hearing of the judicial review of the Trust’s decision, the court urged the National trust to “think again” about its ban, saying that it had made a hasty decision.  The Trust did not think again – and voted unanimously to uphold their ban.  It accepted that the stag population has to be kept down (in the absence of natural predators0 but believed that shooting was far more humane than hunting.

Professor Bateman’s report will be used to support a Private Members Bill now going through Parliament.  The ball seems to be back in the ant-hunting lobby’s court.


  1.  Now try to summarise what the article says about hunting in a few short sentences
  2. Try to draw a flow chart or diagram to show the flow of the argument.


Note-Taking: Tips 1

(From a written source)