Note making: Effective note making

Effective note making

Effective note makers are efficient learners. Effective note making is a skill that each person develops over time and with practice to suit their own style of working. You will find some ideas to help you start on this path in this section.

Effective note makers:

  • can recognise the main ideas
  • know which information is relevant to their purpose
  • have developed a system that works for them
  • can keep it brief and may also use visual diagrams/mindmaps/flowcharts
  • mostly use their own words (as well as specialist words)
  • record details of the source (bibliographic information such as author, date etc.)
  • capture the ideas and thoughts that come to mind as they listen or read. This could be how it relates to an assignment and how they might use it, questions to follow up, or critical comments.

In summary, here are some 'do' and 'don't' tips:


  • Practice! Try taking brief notes from a television show you are watching, (e.g. a news item; short documentary), or from a short magazine article.
  • Translate information into your own words (paraphrase) and summarise
  • Record the bibliographic details of the source
  • Organise notes in some form (it could be as outlines, flowcharts, diagrams, lists, column styles)
  • Review your notes while the text or lecture is still fresh in your memory. Fill in any gaps you see or further thoughts.
  • Try other methods to record your notes such as recording your voice or typing on a laptop
  • Research note taking skills and experiment to develop a system that works for you!


  • Don’t try to write every word – select the major points and important information (especially if you are taking notes in a lecture)
  • Don’t write complete sentences, streamline with abbreviations and symbols, organise – leave out the small connecting words (such as was, the, this).


For further information contact ALLSP on (08) 89467459
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