Tips for Taking Notes From Your Reading

Record the big picture

If you plan on keeping records of your reading, whether, for papers, comprehensive exams, or a thesis or dissertation, you should record, at a minimum, the big picture. Provide a brief overall summary of a few sentences or bullet points.

You don't have to read it all

Before you spend the time taking notes on the big picture, ask yourself if the article or book is worth your time. Not all you will read is worth taking notes on - and not all of it is worth finishing. Skilled researchers will encounter many more sources than they need and many will not be useful for their projects.

Wait to take notes

Sometimes when we begin reading a new source, it’s hard to determine what information is essential. Frequently it is only after reading a bit and pausing that we start to distinguish the critical details. If you start your notes too early, you might find yourself recording all of the features and writing everything down.

Benefits of Notetaking?

Creates a condensed record for study

A set of concise, well-organized notes from each class session gives you what you need for study, learning, and review after class.

Keeps you alert

Notetaking keeps your body active and involved and helps you avoid feelings of drowsiness or distraction.

Engages your mind.

Listening carefully and deciding what to include in notes keeps your mind actively involved with what you hear.

The Best Note-Taking Methods For college students & serious note-takers

Is your time have a value?
If you're worried about damaging a book by marking it up, ask yourself how much your investment of time is worth. If the book is inexpensive, or if the benefit that you get from the book substantially exceeds its value, then don't worry too much about marking it. (Of course, only do this if it belongs to you!)
Print it!
Remember that many online articles and electronic documents weren't originally designed to be read on a screen. If you find it hard to read these on screen, print them out. That is especially important for long or detailed documents.
What do you want?
If you want to read more effectively, identify what you want to learn from each resource you read, and know how sincerely you want to study the material. And, consider "active reading" by making notes and marking-up the document as you go along. It's also useful to know how to study different types of content.


Kenyon Pryor

Managing director of Mukauto

I have been developing and delivering distance learning courses for over 20 years. Mukauto is a family-based business and my involvement in this area started after my mother developed our first Reading Webinar Course back in 2009. I soon ended up doing the course myself and this eventually led to me tutoring the course.

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