Note Writing Techniques

Whether you are a student, have your own project or simply want to note down information from a podcast, note writing is an important skill to master! There are lots of tips and techniques that can help you to organise and structure your notes and ensure that you can make the most of them. Here are our 8 top tips when note writing…

  • When you make notes, try to write phrases and not full sentences. Writing down key words so you understand the general point, can prove more time effective, which is especially important if you are watching a live lecture or lesson.
  • Take notes in your own words as this will speed up the process! This also results in your notes making more sense when you read back through them. Even developing your own shorthand can prove highly effective.
  • Structure your notes with headings, subheadings, and lists! It may seem like an obvious one, but it is essential. You want to be able to come back to your notes in a few weeks/months’ time and be able to make sense of them.
  • Use colour, sketches, and symbols. Your learning style and how you retain information affects how you should note take and the best technique for you. Using drawings and symbols can help you remember information if you know that you learn in a more visual way.
  • Highlight, underline or circle important information to add emphasis. You could use different coloured pens for each type of information or topic - be careful not to highlight too much that it becomes distracting. You may decide to emphasise: a sentence or word that sums up an important idea, quotations, statistics, specialised terms, important or useful data, examples, or links to other ideas. Highlighting small pieces of information can separate information in an organised way and can help you to identify sections when you review your notes.
  • Mind maps or spider diagrams. A great way to add info quickly and in a structured, fun way - (see the mapping method below!)
  • Next, make sure you date your work! Keeping organised notes can really help when looking back at them in the future and reviewing! Maybe you are taking notes for school topics? Dating them will help to keep them in order!
  • Finally, make sure you keep reviewing your notes! By reading over your notes later on in the day, or the following day, you are reinforcing that information!

Here are 4 Note Writing Techniques!

If you prefer to follow a specific note taking technique, look no further. Many techniques overlap and you don’t have to limit yourself to only one. Here is a brief description of some examples of methods you may want to use:


The Outline Method – very organised and structured form of note taking. This technique works by you adding your main points through bullet points and then expanding on the points underneath. Any further supporting points you put underneath these, whilst creating a nested bullet point list (see image). This technique is great for grouping information together, however, it may not be as useful when using diagrams or symbols.

This leads us on to The Boxing Method:

This simple technique splits all subtopics or sections into its own box, creating structure and a highly visual layout. It’s a great way to create summary pages on your lecture, lesson, or subject! This method is mainly a revision tool and is not optimal for note taking in a lecture or when you need to note down things quickly.

The Cornell Method:

This technique uses two columns. The left column consists of questions, comments, or hints about the notes, whilst the right column contains the actual notes. At the bottom of the page/section, you add a summary of the notes in that section. This method is great for adding value when you review your notes, however it does take more time to lay out the page and structure your information.

The Mapping Method:

Another technique you may want to try, especially if you want to make it more creative and visual, is the mapping technique. It is an effective way to show the relationships between different points and ideas. This method should be used when there is a lot of information that you want to divide up. We would suggest taking care when designing the map as it may be easy to run out of page when there are lots of different branches!


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