take notes


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Taking notes is one of the first things you need to learn when you are at University and sadly it doesn’t get taught enough.  Teachers seem to think it is something you will just naturally know how to do, but if you are an ESL student it’s the last thing on your mind when you are trying to master the language.

Firstly I want to mention the word ‘plagiarim’. This has already been talked about on this blog, but I want to briefly mention it again because this is the whole reason why we ‘take notes’, we don’t want to copy word for word what someone else has said or written, so we ‘take notes’. If we copy we are plagiarising and if we are plagiarising we could get fined or even sent to jail, it is against the law!

Note taking is simply to make life easier for you when you are in a lecture or researching information.

So here I am going to give you some simple starting points:


  1. Taking notes is all about understanding what you are reading. If you don’t understand what you just read, you will never be able to take notes.


  1. A note can be anything from a word to a short phrase written in your notebook which helps you remember the whole idea.


  1. Select a key word or phrase that you think will help you remember the sentence.

e.g. The capital city of Australia is Canberra.   NOTES:  Capital-Australia-Canberra

Now you have the notes you can retell or write the full sentence again later.

  1. Notes can have more than just words, they can have arrows, symbols, numbers. dots etc., even different coloured pens for different kinds of ideas. Any kind of thing you can write that tells you something quickly without having to write the whole thing out.

Here are a few (there are many more)

Symbol Meaning
and so on
leads to
go up
go down
= the same as


  1. You can write your notes in your own language if you want! Nobody is going to check you, these notes are for you only not your teacher! So do whatever you can to get that information clear in your notebook.
  1. If you want to directly quote from the book, for note taking, simply write the page number and the paragraph number of the book, even photocopy the page and highlight it too so you have it with you to refer to. (don’t forget when you are writing the passage into your final essay or thesis you need to put it in quotation marks and cite where you got it from and who said it.)
  1. The most important thing to remember is that you should take notes on those points that you think are important. There is no point in taking notes on everything in the book. You need to use your judgement as to what is important and what is not.

Once you have your notes, they have to be able to be read later when you are studying or writing.

Helpful Links:


One thought on “How to TAKE NOTES!

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