Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

How to take notes

  1. This section is to help identify the best and most effective way to take notes!
  2. Similarly to a digital or by hand calendar, there are pros and cons to doing handwritten and digital notes. Decide what works best for you!
  3. From ChatGBT:
Handwritten NotesDigital Notes
ProsImproved retention: Writing down information helps to reinforce memory and understanding. It allows you to actively engage with the material and process it in a way that enhances retention.Organization: Written notes provide a structured format for organizing information. You can create headings, subheadings, bullet points, and diagrams to visually represent and categorize the content.Personalization: Taking notes allows you to personalize the information based on your own understanding and learning style. You can highlight key points, underline important details, and add your own thoughts and insights.Reference for later: Written notes serve as a valuable reference tool. You can review them at any time to refresh your memory, study for exams, or revisit important concepts.Active listening: Taking notes requires active listening and engagement during lectures or discussions. It helps you stay focused and attentive, leading to better comprehension and understanding of the subject matter.Accessibility: Written notes are easily accessible and portable. You can carry them with you wherever you go, making it convenient to review and study whenever you have spare time.

Overall, taking written notes can enhance your learning experience by improving retention, organization, personalization, and providing a valuable reference tool.
ProsEasy organization: Digital notes can be easily organized and categorized using folders, tags, or search functions. This makes it simple to locate specific information quickly and efficiently.Accessibility and portability: Digital notes can be accessed from various devices such as laptops, tablets, or smartphones. This allows you to have your notes readily available wherever you go, without the need to carry physical notebooks.Flexibility and customization: Digital notes offer flexibility in terms of formatting options. You can easily change font styles, colors, and sizes, as well as insert images, links, or multimedia elements to enhance your notes.Collaboration: Digital notes can be easily shared and collaborated on with others. This is particularly useful for group projects or study sessions, as multiple individuals can contribute and edit the same set of notes simultaneously.Backup and security: Digital notes can be automatically backed up to cloud storage or saved locally, reducing the risk of losing important information. Additionally, you can password-protect or encrypt your digital notes for added security.Searchability: Digital notes can be easily searched using keywords or phrases, allowing you to quickly find specific information within a large set of notes. This saves time and effort compared to manually flipping through pages of handwritten notes.
Overall, digital notes offer advantages such as easy organization, accessibility, customization, collaboration, backup, security, and searchability. They provide a convenient and efficient way to manage and access your notes digitally.
ConsSlower process: Writing by hand can be slower compared to typing, especially if you have a lot of information to capture. This may result in missing some details or falling behind during fast-paced lectures or discussions.Legibility and neatness: Handwriting can vary in legibility and neatness, which may make it difficult to read and understand your own notes later on. Illegible or messy handwriting can lead to confusion and frustration when reviewing the material.Limited editing options: Handwritten notes are not as easily editable as digital notes. If you make a mistake or want to reorganize your notes, it can be time-consuming to cross out or erase and rewrite the content.Difficulty in sharing and collaboration: Handwritten notes are not easily shareable or editable by others. If you need to collaborate with classmates or share your notes with someone else, it may require additional effort to transcribe or scan them.Risk of loss or damage: Handwritten notes are physical objects that can be lost, damaged, or misplaced. Accidental spills, misplacement, or damage to the paper can result in the loss of valuable information.Limited searchability: Handwritten notes lack the searchability and keyword-based retrieval capabilities of digital notes. Finding specific information within handwritten notes can be time-consuming and may require flipping through multiple pages.
It’s important to weigh these potential drawbacks against the benefits when deciding whether to take handwritten notes or explore digital alternatives.
ConsDistractions: Working on a digital device can be distracting due to notifications, social media, or other apps. It’s easy to get sidetracked and lose focus on taking effective notes.Technical issues: Digital note-taking relies on technology, which can sometimes fail. Power outages, software glitches, or device malfunctions can result in the loss of important notes or interruptions during note-taking.Limited customization options: Digital note-taking tools may have limitations in terms of formatting and customization. It may be more challenging to create diagrams, drawings, or other visual elements compared to traditional pen and paper.Eye strain: Staring at a screen for extended periods can cause eye strain and fatigue. This can be a concern if you spend a significant amount of time taking digital notes.Battery life: Depending on the device you use, taking digital notes may drain the battery quickly. This can be problematic if you don’t have access to a power source or if you forget to charge your device.Accessibility and compatibility: Digital notes may not be easily accessible or compatible across different devices or platforms. This can create difficulties if you need to access your notes on a device that doesn’t support the same software or file format.

It’s important to weigh these potential cons against the benefits of digital note-taking to determine the best approach for your specific needs and preferences.
  1. You have now decided on doing handwritten or digital notes.
  2. Many mental processes are required in order to take notes that includes paraphrasing, physically writing or typing notes, looking at the professor and your notebook or digital device, and more. Attending a lecture requires paying attention and listening to understand the content.
  3. Taking Notes During a Lecture: It is likely that in trying to keep up with the pace of the lecture, insufficient attention will be put towards understanding the actual content of the lecture. Therefore, during lectures, be smart about balancing between attention and understanding. It will depend on the topic of the lecture, so decide accordingly which one to pay more attention to.
  4. Tips for Taking Notes:
    1. Again, consider how important it is for understanding, refer to the pros and cons of handwritten notes or digital notes.
      1. If lots of figures are involved, it may be hard to translate them into digital notes as opposed to drawing them by hand.
      2. Are electronic devices allowed by the professor? If not, consider the pros of writing notes by hand and do your best.
      3. Try taking notes by hand if you know that taking notes electronically will cause too many distractions and make you unable to pay attention during lectures.


Handwritten NotesDigital Notes
Always be ready with some paper and writing utensil(s).Make sure your materials are organized.A notebook or binder for each class would be helpful to keep notes organized and physically together.Write the date and subject at the top of the page with your name.Always be ready with your electronic device making sure it is charged.Minimize distractions by disabling notifications or putting on airplane mode.Make sure your materials are organized.Use a new document or file for each class with the date in the name of itmonth/day/year/topic → 11/02/2019/Brushing Teeth
  1. During a lecture, ask yourself,
    1. Is the lecture detail heavy but easy to understand? If YES, focus on writing as much as you can.
    2. Is the lecture detail heavy but hard to understand? If NO, focus more on your own understanding, write less, and write more in your own words.
    3. If it is necessary to be quick while taking notes, use an electronic device but disable notifications and turn on airplane mode prior to the beginning of the lecture.
      1. If you’re finding yourself distracted, switch to handwritten notes.
  2. Do my notes make sense to me?
    1. Keep in mind that you will almost always review your notes after you have written them. As you take notes during a lecture, make sure that they will make sense when you reread them in the future.
    2. If/when the instructor asks for questions, review your notes.
    3. Look over your notes at the end of lectures. This is the time to fill in any gaps.
      1. Are you missing any important details? Ask the instructor while the content is still recent.
  3. There is no need for special note formats.
    1. TIP: Writing on every other page will leave space to reorganize notes, add annotations and fill in missing pieces.
      1. Add comments to your own notes.
    2. Find a note outline that works for you.


  1. Use abbreviations when possible to speed up note taking.
    1. Because = bc
    2. Years = yrs
    3. With = w or w/
    4. minimum/maximum = min/max
    5. Example = ex or e.g.
    6. Change = Δ
    7. And = &
    8. Create your own system!
    9. TIP: during a lecture, write the first letter of each word you’re writing then go back and fill them in later.
  2. Figures and Graphs
    1. Know what the point of the figure/graph is and summarize the conclusion of it rather than drawing it out which takes time.
  3. Recorded Lectures?
    1. You’re not as likely to go back and use a recorded lecture as much as you might think. It takes a lot of time to rewatch. Instead, use the recordings as a backup.
    2. Live lectures offer many advantages.
      1. From ChatGBT
Pros of a Live Lecture
Real-time interaction: Attending lectures in person allows for immediate interaction with the instructor and fellow students. You can ask questions, seek clarification, and engage in discussions, fostering a deeper understanding of the material. Non-verbal cues: In-person lectures provide the opportunity to observe non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. These cues can enhance comprehension and help in interpreting the speaker’s intent or emphasis on certain points.Active learning: Being physically present in a lecture encourages active learning. You are more likely to stay focused, take notes, and participate in activities or group discussions, which can deepen your understanding and retention of the subject matter.Networking opportunities: Attending lectures in person allows you to connect with fellow students who share similar interests. This can lead to valuable networking opportunities, study groups, and collaborations that can enhance your academic and professional growth. Reduced distractions: Attending lectures in person can help minimize distractions compared to online or remote learning environments. Being in a dedicated learning space with limited interruptions can improve concentration and overall learning outcomes.Access to additional resources: In-person lectures often provide access to additional resources such as handouts, supplementary materials, demonstrations, or guest speakers. These resources can further enrich your learning experience and provide a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter.
While online learning has its own advantages, attending lectures in person offers unique benefits such as real-time interaction, non-verbal cues, active learning, networking opportunities, reduced distractions, and access to additional resources.