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Note-taking Strategies

College is new environment with many different class/lecture styles. Take time to figure out how you learn/study best; discover your learning style. Based on these learning styles, you may appreciate the following strategies:

  • Auditory: digital recorders, LiveScribe Pen, engage in class room discussion
  • Visual: highlight notes in different colors, create concept maps
  • Tactile: re-write notes, make flash cards, study while exercising, act-out concepts

Note-taking Tips

  • Get organized!
  • Preparation:
    • Read your assignment before you come to class. Note-taking comes easier when you already have some understanding or awareness of the material.
    • ​Leave white space between topics or ideas. Write in questions you might have for your instructor that you want to ask after class.
  • Headings and Dates:
    • Date each lecture and number all pages. 
    • Add a topic/heading to the top of each page. This makes retrieving and reviewing specific information much easier.
  • Format your notes. Use a method that you can easily follow like an outline:
    • Indent secondary ideas, supporting ideas or examples. Blocks of text all run together, so your topics/main ideas need to stand out visually.
  • Short-hand:
    • Incomplete sentences or phrases will be necessary. If you try to write down every word your instructor says, you will get behind and become frustrated.
  • In Class:
    • During lecture, take notes on all definitions, lists, formulas or solutions. Listen for verbal cues from your instructor.
    • Connect with your instructor or TA after class or during office hours. This is a great time to fill in any missing information. 

Adapted from: Brookhaven College Note-taking Strategies

Note-taking Methods

Cornell Method

  • Separate your page into 3 sections, writing your notes in class on the right, leaving the left blank to fill in later with study questions or extra information from the book and the bottom section for a summary of the pages information

Cornell Method of Notetaking
Outlining Method

  1. Main Topic
    1. This concept applies to one above
      1. Supporting details
  2. You can also use indents, dashed & bullets instead of Roman Numerals

Smartpens​, Recorders and Apps

Livescribe SmartPens

Smartpens give you the freedom to focus on listening and participating instead of worrying whether you are catching every word. As you jot down notes or sketches, your LiveScribe smartpen captures them and brings them into the digital world. With a single tap, you can record audio along with your notes so that you can be sure that you'll never miss a word. Since the pen has internal memory it can hold up hundreds of hours of audio and thousands of pages of notes.

Livescribe dot paper uses standard paper printed with a unique pattern of tiny microdots. This tiny pattern acts like a map for the smartpen, allowing it to capture the exact location of everything it writes or draws on dot paper. Livescribe smartpens only work with Livescribe Dot Paper. Choose from a variety of paper types, bindings, and sizes at competitive prices: blank, lined, or grid paper in spiral-bound notebooks, hard-bound journals, notepads, and even sticky notes. More product information about LiveScribe Pens at:

Digital Recorders

Digital recorders are a great option. Recorders allow you to listen, be engaged in class, and take notes, without the worry of having to write everything down. You will be able to go back and listen to the lecture as often as you want and add more notes for studying. 

Apps for Note-taking

Use apps to support you in taking notes independently and developing your note-taking skills. View a list of note-taking apps and technology