Some Advice on Note Taking

A. Organization. Familiarize yourself with the way lectures are organized.
B. Abbreviations. Develop your own set of abbreviations or shorthand for words and and concepts that occur frequently in your subject.
C. Layout. Use layout techniques, and space out your notes so that you can add later detail, personal thoughts, and information and ideas from further study. Use the lefthand page in your notebook for "tree diagrams" or "concept maps." Notes from further study can also go on that page.
D. Note Questions and Problems. Think of note taking as noting questions and problems rather than facts. Note questions and issues that occur to you as soon as you can. The same applies to criticisms and other thoughts about the topic. Initial questions, criticisms, and thoughts that are your own so that you won't confuse them with the instructor's. Also note what you don't understand.
E. Keep an Ideas Notebook. Carry a special, small personal notebook with you all the time to note questions and passing thoughts about your discipline and the world in general.
F. Immediate Review. Review your notes as soon as possible after the end of a lecture. Add in any details, thoughts, questions, and criticisms that come to mind. Add in cross references to other courses or parts of the same course.
G. Have a Prepared Mind. Read an elementary text (e.g., articles from Scientific American) on the topic before attending the lecture. Familiarize yourself with names and technical terms. The purpose of this is to allow your brain to process information more quickly during the lecture.

Adapted from Bligh, D.A. (2000). What's the Use of Lectures? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, pp. 143-146.