Note-taking styles

There are lots of different ways to take notes – choose the one that works best for you. Here are some ideas:

Highlighting and annotation

Highlighting photocopied or printed pages is only useful if you add your own notes, comments and annotations. To do this:

  • photocopy or print information and highlight important points during your first read
  • on your second read, write your own notes in the margins, describing why you highlighted what you did.

Remember, the point of an assignment is to show your interpretation of the information you've found. Recording your ideas in your notes shows what you've actally learnt from your research.

Copy, paste, summarise

When researching online, a simple way to take notes is to copy and paste information, then summarise it in your own words. Try this approach:

  • separate a page into three columns of similar size
  • in the first column, write the bibliographical details of the text or website (remember to include the url)
  • in the middle column copy and paste information from a website or write notes from your reading

In the last column, write down three or more points summarising the key ideas from the text you've pasted into the middle column. Also include questions, any observations, things you agree or disagree with, things you don't understand, related resources, relevance to the question, etc.

Online note-taking applications

You can create and save notes online using a range of free software, like Evernote. This means you can read and edit work anywhere you can access the Web. You can also share notes with classmates and store back-ups of your work.

Highlighting is only effective if you highlight small sections of text, not entire paragraphs.