Chances are good that you have a personal way of note-taking. What you may not realize is that there are many different methods for taking notes. It may be worth learning some of the different methods – each offer advantages depending on how information is presented. It is also possible that you can incorporate some of these techniques within your own type of note taking, creating a hybrid that helps you capture the right information, learn more during presentations and have more effective reviews.
The outlining method of note taking is obviously hierarchical. Your notes begin with a main idea and then move down to major points within the idea, and then minor points within the major ideas. For example:
1. Methods for Note Taking
– Outlining Method
– Mind Mapping Method
Mind Mapping Method
In the mind mapping method, you use a more visual approach. Starting in the middle, you illustrate the core concept. Then moving outward, you add related concepts in clusters, with related ideas continually branching out from the center.
In the charting method, which is most appropriate for structured information, your notes follow a columnar arrangement. You begin by dividing your page up into a series of columns (however many you think you need to capture your notes). You then add notes into the appropriate columns, working from top to bottom to fill in concepts. The charting method works best when you need to classify notes.
For unstructured and unpredictable information, you may want to use the sentence method. It’s simple, you just add one note per line, flowing down the page. After you are through taking notes, you will reorganize the information. That is, it’s unstructured (and possibly confusing) in its native form, so you want to revisit the notes and “fix” them.
We’ve talked fairly extensively about the Cornell Method previously. In this method for taking notes, you’ll have 3 boxes on your page. The top two-thirds of your page will be two columns (1/3 on the left and 2/3 on the right). Then at the bottom, you’ll have a big, full row. In the top left column, you list “topics”, in the top right column, you expand the concepts of the topical notes. After the meeting/presentation/class, you fill in a summary of the page in the bottom row. Cornell Method is great for reviews and test preparation.
Sketch Notes Method
If you want to try something really different, there’s a “new” method for note taking called Sketch Notes. Author/designer Mike Rohde wrote a book about Sketch Notes and has a large following for this technique, which includes doodles and sketches. Clearly, sketch notes are visual, but by making the notes more fun, they help the note-taker learn the subject. Each important concept can be sketched, with a focus on the big ideas and key facts, rather than all the details.
Methods for Taking Notes
If you want to make good grades in school or be a more productive colleague in your team meetings, you should consider choosing good methods for taking notes. Not only will you be a better resource to your friends and colleagues who miss information, you’ll also have a better understanding of the materials you write about. You’ll find that taking notes helps you focus, learn faster, understand concepts in the long term and remember those big ideas. And all those things are good for you!